Break the vicious cycle of busyness and delayed joy.
Hey it’s Rand,
It can take months, even years to reinvent yourself.
The journey usually starts with a sense of the collapse of your ego structure.
Something much deeper within you seeks to voice itself. Think of this as your soul voice.
At this point you begin to recalibrate the structures that surround you. To align with your soul voice.
You may need to change:
- your workplace
- your community
- your activities.
The catalyst for starting this journey may be a profound feeling of apathy; it may be a feeling of anger or even isolation.
Whatever it is that signals the breaking of the vicious cycle of busyness and delayed joy for you, you should welcome it with open arms.
My near death experience broke my vicious cycle: I still get goose bumps thinking about it; I was able to still my busy mind and focus inward; I peeled back layer upon layer, until all that remained was my inner voice; with constant exercise it became stronger, and as it did I became calmer and more attuned to the universe. For the first time, pure joy entered my life.
Be aware that the journey of reinvention can be a painful time, filled with confusion and fear; repressed feelings can flood into your consciousness; moments of uncertainty about the path forward can hinder your progress.
But it is such a worthwhile journey. Instead of being filled with your own joyless noise, you will begin to listen at a deeper level. And you will start to hear what the people around you are really saying.
Invest the time to determine what excites you; invest the time to determine what delivers you real meaning; work on that the rest of your life.
This work’s true value is fulfilment and inner joy. This work is priceless.
Fear of death is our greatest fear. It can override everything and it can leave us frozen, like deer in the headlights of life, too afraid to really live large.
Yet we can learn so much from death. In this post I want to share with you two truths that death can bring us:
1. Death provides us with a vital spiritual awakening.
If we have been ultimately present in our lives then death arrives as a welcome friend rather than as an intruder.
We are here: enjoying the day; hanging out with friends; busy on a project at work; or focused on any other every day activity.
And then: we are not.
It is essential that we understand not only that life can end so very quickly, but also that there is not necessarily any logic or reason for death arriving.
We need to be comfortable with this knowledge and have some form of spiritual platform, whether religious or not, that gives us comfort.
2. When death is an integral part of our lives it becomes a wonderful opportunity for expression.
If death is part of our living then when a family member of some other cherished person passes, we find ourselves less prone to resisting death which causes us anguish.
Instead we welcome it with open arms and let our hearts break open wide with love and compassion.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like working in an organisation that is under huge pressures to grow, to transform itself and to beat the competition; an organisation that is mandated to do more with less and to do more differently rather than following the status quo. For many of us this is a daily reality. We can palpably feel the sense of urgency these pressures create.
Every moment of every day such an organisation is very likely to be under real existential threat: existing competitors are trying to grab our customer base and startups are gunning to make us irrelevant with disruptive solutions. Now imagine that your leaders not only fear organisational irrelevancy and death, but also fear their own professional and actual death: these leaders are caught between the need to change and charge ahead and the paralysing fear of not existing.
Two main questions arise from this all too common situation: firstly, how can such leaders lead well when they are stuck like deer in existential headlights worrying that they could drop dead at any moment; and secondly, how can a person survive and thrive when they are working in such a company for such fearful leaders; how can people be expected to find purpose and meaning in their work; how can they remain engaged when they are working within such an environment of existential fear?
The short answer to both questions is that they cannot and the workplace surveys reflect this: big time. There is a paucity of purposeful leadership: by purpose I mean a goal that is bigger than our company’s results or share price. There is also a massive breakdown in staff engagement within the corporate universe.
To tackle this problem leaders need to be able to overwrite their fears; alter their reality and reinvent themselves; they need to be happier with greater overall life satisfaction, more in tune with a higher purpose and completely devoid of their previous fear of death.
This is not a trivial problem to solve for and the two overarching questions that emerge are: how can we as business leaders find a solution to this paralysing and very real corporate pandemic; how can we help our executives to deal with their fear?
The answer lies in confronting that which we fear most: no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, we need to stare death in the face. On the face of it this may not seem possible: how can we truly confront death without dying ourselves? Surely that would defeat the purpose?
There is an elegant solution: exploring death through the eyes of people who have been there and come back, exploring death through people who have undergone a near-death experience. Why them? Many NDEers no longer fear death.
In a study published in 2004 on near-death experiences and their impact on the temporal lobe, Brown University’s Willoughby Britton made a startling discovery: people who had transcendent encounters during life-threatening events scored exceptionally higher on tests of overall life satisfaction than people who hadn’t. She referenced thirty years of research to show that while most people were negatively impacted and traumatised by their near-death experience, a subset who had experienced some form of transcendence had an atypical response: they exhibited off the charts happiness and life satisfaction, including feeling that their lives had meaning and a higher purpose. By transcendence I refer to some experience that has the quality of being beyond the normal constraints we feel: linear time collapses; the well-defined sense of self dissolves; there is unity between the internal and external senses; there is reconnection back into a larger, collective otherness than the present life experience. Not all NDEers experience this transcendence, but a great many have.
Further research has demonstrated that this is not a one-off feeling that dissipates in the short to mid term. People who have undergone a transcendent NDE have had their brains permanently rewired so that they do not fear death. As long as a decade after such an NDE, those who have experienced it feel the same level of happiness, reverence and lack of existential fear.
Three years after my own transcendent NDE I can personally attest to this: yes, it took me a while to deal with the shock of my sudden cardiac death, there were moments of emotional turmoil along the way; yes, it took me a while to recuperate from my illness as only another major operation 10 months laterremoved the arrhythmia that had caused my cardiac arrest; but yes, I have absolutely overwritten and have no fear of dying whatsoever; and resoundingly yes, I have completely reinvented my life and have off the charts life satisfaction as I pursue a far greater purpose than my own selfish success or that of one organisation.
It would be impractical for organisations to only use transcendent NDE survivors as their leaders, but I would encourage dialogue with people like myself who are open to sharing our experiences and key learnings; people who are focused on improving leadership skills and helping executives to reinvent themselves with many of the traits that transcendent NDEers exhibit such as deeper compassion and wisdom.
There is also greater understanding of how to create an on tap emulation of the effects of a transcendent NDE and I encourage you to follow this growing activity more closely. It is an area we are exploring at EXOscalr. There will be a lot to gain from having first mover advantage in being able to recreate altered states of consciousness.