On the other side of fear is magic
For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than to encourage someone who cannot see their magnificence, or who has perhaps lost or is losing it, to look inside their hearts and to connect with what they find there. Inside our hearts, we ultimately find the intelligence and wisdom of our soul. We can connect with the intelligence and wisdom that is universal. It is here that we find purpose.
I love to see people connect with that sense of raw purpose
…that sense of who they are and what they are here to do. We also find love. The love of ourselves that we are missing – that which we devote our entire time in disconnection, trying to replace. Through objects, projects, drinks, drugs, food, others’ love, and more, none of which ever entirely does the job.
Once found, there is then the dual challenge of finding the courage to fall trustingly and unquestioning into that love. Simultaneously, one must liberate oneself from the shackles, stories, and patterns that have shaped and moulded your life up until then and free yourself from one’s ego. And then learn to soar, knowing and believing that anything is possible. And to transcend the norms. So I love to work with and mentor people through that journey.
Very early life was filled with many good memories and the feeling of a close family and plenty of family time: Mum, my brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and my Gran and my Uncle Vic; I recall a sense of freedom, adventure and a lot of playing outdoors. We were provided for comfortably generally and at Christmas and birthdays.
There was travel involved between the ages of 4 and 11, which meant being sent to boarding school when I was nine. That was very tough, but I adjusted, and overall my school memories are fond ones.
The first major challenge came when my parents separated and then divorced when I was 11 or 12. My Dad was my hero, and he virtually disappeared, to all intents and purposes, without trace or proper explanation.
My Mum was left to pick up the pieces and take on her own demons and rejection, at the same time as bringing up three boys and supporting the family financially. When this happened, it did not feel as though divorce and separation was a common thing. So there was some shame for me, wondering why everyone else’s parents seemed solid.
My Mum did an incredible job. I don’t know how she managed when I look back. Support from family and friends, I guess, and a considerable amount of inner resolve, resilience, courage and love. As you can imagine, however, the burden took its toll.
By my mid-teens, Mum had developed an alcohol dependency. Alcohol became a sinister presence in my mid to late teens. I had a very close relationship with my brothers, although sometimes having to be the enforcer in the absence of a Father figure brought me into conflict.
University came at the right time. Looking back, my calling came in stages rather than as a result of one big “Aha”. I am sure, too, that there are incremental steps that my memory has missed along the way.
My Mum introduced me to the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was in my late teens – 17 or 18 perhaps. The message of the book struck a chord with me. I read it several times and immersed myself in the Neil Diamond sound-track.
The theme of flying high, standing out from the crowd and transcending the norms resonated deeply – at that time, of course, I hardly knew why.
I did my Law degree at the University of Kent. I had wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember.
Again, my Mum had a substantial influence on this. Her career guidance always had me looking at one of the primary professions, and law was the one that stood out for me. Despite having pursued a career in law for several of my later academic years, I spent the last year at University trying to land myself a place on a graduate recruitment programme with a Blue Chip company to do marketing.
Success in this was not easy to find. Finally, after my final year exams, the call came through to offer me a business analyst position.
It had taken lots of badgering to get that offer off the back of another failed attempt at a marketing position. The very same day, I had spoken to my Uncle; he was a close mentor at that time – he couldn’t understand why I had spent all of this time on the law path – only to now change tack. He agreed to sponsor my post-graduate diploma in law, and the die was cast.
Having decided to dig deep to excel in my diploma exam, I then landed a training contract at a small firm in Piccadilly, London. I enjoyed my first few years without really committing wholeheartedly to the process and without any real sense of direction.
Then one evening, I took a call from one of my fellow trainees at the firm. He had become involved in a business that could make people very rich, very quickly. All I needed to do was come and meet with some of the others from the company. Curiosity took over, and a few meetings later, I was a fully subscribed member of the Amway family.
Over a year or more, I followed the demoralising path of being assured that I could make it and ultimately failed. Travelling around friends and family, anyone I could speak to, in fact, telling them how they too could make it by selling Amway’s brands of cleaning products. It was desperate and soul-destroying.
However, the one thing that it did give me was a self-help system of cassettes and books, which had me understand that I could control my destiny with positive thought. This idea was revelatory.
During my teenage years, I recall regularly being ‘brought down a peg or two. I was told that my behaviour was cocky, arrogant. It left me with low self-esteem. If you like, I had been programmed to be submissive, not to stand my ground; I had very little self-belief as a result.
My new-found positive beliefs from the books and cassettes gave me a whole new lease on life; they transformed my thinking and had a knock-on effect on my world.
Within two years, I had become a partner in a law firm, the head of property development and had billed a record amount for them.
It was a new phase, much more in alignment with who I indeed was at the core. I decided that I was going to make a name for myself in this area. I had discovered my power.
Much of the journey was successful and mostly positive. However, ultimately I started to feel like a plane hurtling down the runway in danger of losing essential parts the moment it took off. This is precisely what happened for several reasons:
My sense of self was so wrapped up in being the best out there that I lost the ability to see clearly as I became busier and busier. I could not cope with any negative feedback – each time a client or colleague complained, I truly felt it on a visceral level.
As I rose further to the top, I mostly forgot to see people as people; I made myself more important than my colleagues. I believed that I mattered more.
In pursuing numbers and relentlessly yearning to be the best, I had ultimately forgotten the meaning of things; I had lost my Jonathan Livingstone Seagull essence.
In modifying myself to meet clients’ demands and try to make myself relevant, I had morphed who I was. I was no longer recognisable. I was out of integrity, with myself and with the world.
The way I found I was able to cope with this was to disconnect. To fill the gaping hole with excess and abuse. And I then began to experience the delusion that I was giving, giving, giving and getting nothing back.
I had become an imitation of myself; I was walking around in a daze.
What followed was a challenging period – divorce, a messy departure from work with a £2M lawsuit, brushes with the police for domestic issues. I’d lost a great deal through wreckless investments. This pattern became a concerning feature of my life from the early to mid-’40s. I realised then finally that this was as low as I wanted to go.
I honestly didn’t know how to recover from this place; it’s then that I discovered coaching, personal development and leadership.
When I first sat with a therapist in the thick of these difficult times, he gave me two golden rules: do not try to control things that you can not and try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I have learned that the true essence of me is contained deep within my heart, rooted within my soul. This essence speaks my truth; this is me, at my very best.
When I listen to it, allow it and give space to it, the rest of life and the world around me feel like it fits; it feels like things form and take the shape they are meant to. In this fundamental truth, there is peace, and there is beauty. There is creation.
Although for me, allowing life to emerge and grow from this place is not always easy. It requires courage and self-love. It means unhitching myself from my ego. It takes practice and patience. Letting go of the years of negative layers is a challenging endeavour.
Mastery is a big word for me. I am a long way from finding that. However, I am on a journey to it. It’s the mastery of self amid chaos. It’s asking myself, ‘what do I truly want? What will really serve me?’ and then doing that thing. That’s flow; that’s being true.
First and foremost, being connected to me and having great love and compassion for who I am, allows me to stand firm in my leadership and lead from a place of centeredness even when the circumstances around me feel difficult or overwhelming.
Meditation has become an anchor for me. At its simplest level, the discipline has allowed me to find the space between moment and response and limit my reactivity. At a deeper level, it has opened me up to the wisdom of the heart and, more profound than that, the wisdom of the soul—that of the unified consciousness where everything is formed.
Slowing down and having a morning ritual involving Tonglen, gratitude, forgiveness, intention, and creative visualisation/manifestation all underpin my meditation.
Each element plays its essential part:
- Tonglen to receive in the bad and send out the good and compassion to the world;
- Gratitude, forgiveness and the giving allow me to live with joy, hope and bliss.
- Intention and creative visualisation allow me to shape my future and the future of those nearest and dearest to me.
- Mindfulness allows me to be present in the moment, and meditation is the gateway to awareness and space.
- Finally, to trust the universe. This is key for me.
- I believe that I am here to live out and fulfil a fundamental purpose: show and embody that anything is possible if we believe; I trust in this wholeheartedly.
My object is an Obsidian Hand of Fatima, which hangs around my neck. It reminds me of the book, the Alchemist, on account of Fatima’s character in the book. The book is about living from the heart and the journey that can manifest when we decide to listen if we pay attention to the omens.
There is a section in the book where the main character has traded in all of his worldly possessions and travelled abroad on the quest to find the treasure – he is tricked into handing over his money and travel documents to a thief. He is left alone, without anything in a market square in Morocco. At this moment, he faces the fact that he could choose defeat. Still, he reminds himself that he is an adventurer and what more adventurous situation could he find himself in?
This object reminds me that I, too, am an adventurer.
Mostly, we are living a small fraction of our fullest life. We are capable of so many great things. Blossoming and becoming our fullest potential requires us to shut out the noise, go inside, access our hearts and find the wisdom of our essential nature.
We can tap into universal knowledge and the world of infinite possibility – we can choose to reflect on the following questions to see what surfaces:
– When I open my eyes, who do I want to be?
– What am I capable of bringing to this life?
To lead our lives with conscious intention and attention whilst remembering that the seagull who flies highest sees the farthest.
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