Change is a wonderful thing. Applied to technology or safety, it’s the key to the wellbeing of the planet and the business’ that thrive on it. However, when change is mis-applied to people and jobs, it turns to its darker side. This article, written by a dyslexic mountaineer, explains why:
Come with me on a trip. We’re going to trek up to Kalaphatar, the highest trekking peak in the world, just a few kilometres from the fabled “Everest base camp” and certainly higher.
Your trek starts out, just like your new position in the business, filled with enthusiasm. The challenges are mostly physical, like getting used to the new KPF’s and feeling comfortable in your new boots. 99% of the people you once called peers could actually get this first part of your new job, this first stage of your exciting trek, nailed. It’s really just a matter of walking in the shadows of whoever walked before you and the trail is easily marked. Allow me to call this “the purely physical” love of your job, and the trek.
You’ll soon start to feel the effects of altitude, but, as long as I guide you and don’t push you too hard, (equivalent of asking you to do too much too soon in your new job), you’ll adapt, or as it’s called in the mountains, Acclimatise. Your body will adapt to the reduction in oxygen and will release fluids so the lower air pressure doesn’t cause you to drown in your own body fluids or blow your brain out through your nose as the fluids expand with no where to go. So, you’ll pee a lot. And at work, in your new job, you’ll be letting go some old baggage and patterns that felt good but don’t work for you anymore at this new altitude. Simply, as long as you adapt and evolve at the right pace, you’ll love your job and those you work with.
However, it’s about now that the going starts to become a little less physical and a lot more emotional. You might not feel as enthusiastic as you did at the start. Your feet might start to hurt, your family might start to complain about the hours you’re putting in and some emotional content might surface around the others who are with you on this trek. This is not altitude sickness. This is attitude sickness and the most common method people use to handle it, this more personal challenge of your new job or the trek, is to blame other people. I hear this “If it weren’t for (insert name) I’d be having a much better day.” As soon as these words enter your mind, you no longer love what you do or are doing what you love. Emotion has taken over, and that horrible oxymoron, “emotional intelligence” will be thrust in your face in order to cope. But not on my trek. On my trek I’ll say “get over it” and then something like “what you judge in others you judge in you” – and then, “nobody does to you more than you do to yourself.” The whole purpose of my leadership is to get you to take responsibility for your attitude sickness in which all emotion is shown to be a delusion, an essential part of life, but not something to validate or act upon. I show you how to master you emotion and there’s a good reason for that:
If you can’t master your emotions at this level of the trek, you can’t master yourself at the next level. If you can’t love your work at the emotional level of life, how in the name of goodness will you be able to make decisions at the more strategic level? Validation of emotional rhetoric of “I feel …” is tantamount to self-sabotage at higher levels of function. Even Yoga teaches this although most Yoga teachers don’t know it.
So, moving on, evolving and adapting to the physical stresses of your power job, (acclimatising on the trek) you’ll automatically start dealing with the emotional challenges of fear of being away from a phone, the chances of standing in Yak poo, the probability of getting the trots (there are two types of people trek in Nepal – those who got the shits and those about to get them 🙂 ) This is usually when people start to get “grumpy with each other.” – At this time, if you don’t take the power back, you’ll be blaming the other people, get attitude sickness, and the love of the trip, and job will be gone forever.
So, I teach you how to find gratitude. Gratitude is the highest emotion. Way, way, way under that are things like forgiveness – which causes righteousness, which is the cause of emotional attitude sickness in the first place. So, either pull the cause of emotion back to the source or stick your head in an ice bucket. Everything else like emotional intelligence and peace and other ideals just aggravate the cause of attitude sickness and make you plateau in your career and the trek.
Now comes the next level of trekking. Mind. Although we haven’t spoken about it, there are seven areas of life, and there are so far physical, emotional and now mental aspects of life. Therefore, we are three dimensional creatures, not just emotional, physical, mental. We have emotion about work, home, health, money, social issues, knowledge and spirituality. We have physical challenges about those areas too. And we have mental challenges. Physical challenges cannot be compartmentalised. If we are broke in money, it impacts all other areas of life. If we are emotionally depressed it impacts all other areas of life. But if we’re mentally up ourselves at work, it doesn’t automatically compute that we’re mentally on top of things at home. Mind is a bugger it can be totally deluded, and not even know it. This is called “the ego.”
The greatest danger on a trek is mind. People think they are smarter or wiser or cleverer than they are and can take quantum risks for a photo. In business, in your new job, if someone pumps your ego by telling you how amazing you are, you might just make the worst decision of your career, because? You know the answer…
On a trek, there’s an automatic levelling to the Ego. It’s the mountain itself. You can’t beat the mountain. The faster you go, the sicker you get. The more ego centric you become the more likely a fall. The mountains change people, even just a trek, and teaches a valuable lesson, you can’t beat the mountain, you can’t beat life. You have to find a way to stay humble otherwise, you’ll fall. The equivalent in your new job of not doing what you love and loving what you do anymore because you think you are better than others or worse. This is the ego and if there’s a devil in disguise as Elvis once sang, it’s this self righteous (better than others) and self-wrongteous (worse than others) mind.
This up yourself and down yourself mindset can be learnt, can be inherited from certain religions, can be experienced by bullying and can be encouraged by competitive working environments that imply one person is a better person than another person because of the results they just happened to cause. In reality, you are no better or worse than anybody else. You’ll see this in the eyes of a mountaineer who just summited Mt Everest. They do not survive to chat and tell the story if they are not humble to a power greater than themselves or feel superior and competitive with other people.
So, we’re not half way into your new job, and just half way up the trek to Kalaphatar. The love of the mountains, the love for people along the way, the love of self reveals itself and you’re ready for the second half of the trip, and now, in your new job, ready to start asserting your own brand on the new position. I’d like to call this final step, the spiritual step, but I know that taunts a lot of eyes to the sky. So, I’ll say “inspired” step instead.
The physical, emotional and mental levels of life are motivational. They are externally impacted, externally placated and cause external reward punishment systems to generate proof of their existence and mastery. Now, to stamp our brand on the trek, to stamp our heart and leave a memory that lasts longer than our time in the job, we must get beyond the transitory nature of motivation, external, and drive ourselves to a deeper level. Inspiration.
THE SHIFT FROM MOTIVATION TO INSPIRATION
Inspiration is a higher form of intuition.
When the inner voice speaks louder than the outer voices, you’re inspired. The outer voices are physical, emotional, mental.
The outer voices speak:
- Physical – I got to – a sense of fundamental necessity.
- Emotional – I should (values) and I need to – a sense of how I feel… warm and fuzzy
- Mental – I want (material self actualisation) – a sense of empowerment and independence
The inner voice speaks:
- I desire it, choose it, I love it. A detached calm. An inspired purpose. A reason to act greater than the three levels of self (physical, emotional, mental).
At the half way mark of the trek, the question starts to linger in the back of your mind: “why the f..k am I doing this?” and in your new job, when the pressure is on, that same question lurks in the shadows. And if you don’t have a good answer, you’ll sabotage the trek and the job because you’ll stop loving it.
What is easy to love at the physical, emotional and mental levels is nearly impossible to love at the inspired level without a big enough why, a why greater than self.
Those who come trekking for the fun of it, fade. Those who came to prove they can do it, fade. Their motivation runs out, and the sabotage mechanisms kick in. It’s hard to see them, and I do watch in silence, sabotaging themselves, just as they do in their career or relationship. There’s just not enough reason to risk their safety, to go higher. This is the plateau where men and women in mid life, try to turn back in their life, marry younger people, buy fancy cars, or take up adrenalin sports. It’s an attempt to go back down from the mountain and find solace in their choice to put their lifestyle (motivation, physical, emotional and mental pleasure) above their inspiration.
It’s the equivalent to cutting off the electricity to a house. Theroux called it “quiet lives of desperation.” and others called it “decorating the prison cell” – its been labeled “the living dead” – high net worth individuals, unwilling to follow their heart and tap their inspired destiny.
Hence, getting to the top of a trek or staying in love with your job does not require changing yourself. It requires mastering yourself. It requires a diminishing of the value of physical pleasure, an equilibrating of emotional feelings of uppers, and negation of the culturally endorsed notion of superiority through wealth or performance, a humility. And finally, to find a reason to do more of what you love to do, not for your own benefit but for the greater good, some purpose greater than self, (your family is self), a reason, a big enough why to tap into the inner voice and trek to the summit.
COACHING AND RETREATS
The information presented here is covered in individual coaching sessions targeted to help you get beyond physical, emotional and mental blocks so you can tap into inspiration as a driving force for your career, family, sport and self leadership.
This material is also presented as a part of a two day corporate retreat where you can take a break, explore the possibilities of doing more of what you love and loving more of what you do.