UNCOVERING YOUR STRIVING STRATEGIES
This month, we are moving from the consciousness of SURVIVING (Why Me??!) through the consciousness of STRIVING (By Me) into the consciousness of THRIVING (Through Me and As Me). Thriving defined in a nutshell: "Being the vehicle through which God fully expresses, and the vehicle through which the impossible becomes possible."
All based on the great book The Last Word on Power: Executive Reinvention for Leaders Who Must Make the Impossible Happen by Tracy Goss.a
Last week, we explored our Striving Strategies realizing that: What got us HERE won't get us THERE.
If you weren't here last week, I strongly urge you to go to our website and listen to the recording or read the transcripts so you can be brought up to date.b
DON'T SHOULD ON YOURSELF
In every one of our Striving Strategies, there is an assumption. Do you know what it is? The assumption is that if I do what I know how to do -- if I use my Striving Strategies -- then my life will turn out the way I think it SHOULD. Right?
And this assumption is based on a deeper assumption. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? Take a deep breath, because we are about to embark on a journey of perhaps radical change in the way we THINK about life. Remember - CHANGE YOUR THINKING, CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Here we go -- Here's the deeper assumption: We assume that things SHOULD be a certain way. And when they are that way, we judge them as RIGHT. But when they are not that way, we judge that something is WRONG -- terribly wrong! -- with the situation, with you, with me or with all of the above.
If you find yourself living from the assumption that things SHOULD be a certain way -- believe me, I do! -- don't beat yourself up about it. It is somewhat of a Universal Paradigm. We all do it.
So why be concerned about it? If we want to release our Surviving and Striving Strategies and move into that place of Thriving -- we must, must, must say goodbye to this assumption, we must change our thinking about this.
When we talk of surrender -- we mean surrender to God. Right? But what does that mean, really? OK, I surrender this to God -- now what?
I usually still stay pretty attached to how I think it should turn out! I've called today's talk the LAST WORD ON SURRENDER because to TRULY surrender to God, which is what is required in thriving, we must surrender our assumptive notion that life should BE any certain way and when it is that way it's right and when it's not that way, it's wrong.
There are two hugely limiting factors about living from this assumption:
FIRST LIMITING FACTOR
FIRST: When we are operating from this belief, there is always the need to blame whatever's wrong. Some people focus on blaming other people; others accuse "it" or "they" -- society, government, the world in general, even God! -- for causing their problems. And some believe that the cause of their problems is themselves.
Whether you look at "me," "them," or "it", the Universal Human Paradigm (something is wrong) is always the context from which you take action. You work hard to improve yourself; you struggle to manipulate, charm or maneuver around other people; you battle or seek influence in the institutions of the world.
And the faster that you make sure "it, them or me" are heading in the right direction, the faster you can make things seem to turn out the way they "should," and the more in control of life you feel.
When things are going well, you feel like you are winning, succeeding, even perhaps thriving! But as soon as things don't turn out like you think they SHOULD, you immediately go into the striving or surviving mode.
We are spiritually knocked off center. How do we often respond when our Prayers do not manifest like we think they SHOULD!?
The Buddhists say there are eight winds. They are gain and loss, praise and ridicule, credit and blame, and suffering and joy. If you aren't aware of them, they will blow you away like dry eaves in an autumn breeze.
There is an ancient Chinese story about a young man who thought he had become enlightened. He wrote a poem to his master about how he was no longer blown by the eight winds. Then he sent it to his master who lived 300 miles up the Yangtze (Yang-see) River.
When his master received the poem and read it, he wrote "Fart, Fart" at the bottom and sent it back.
The more the young man read those words, the more upset he got. At last he decided to visit his master to find out why he wrote "Fart, Fart" on his beautiful poem. In those days, a 300-mile trip up the Yangtze River was a very difficult journey.
As soon as he arrived, he went straight to his master's temple. "Why did you write this? he asked, bowing. "Doesn't this poem show that I am no longer blown about by the eight winds?"
"You say that you are no longer blown by the eight winds," replied the master, "and yet two little farts blew you all the way up here."
I'd say he was spiritually knocked off center pretty easily, eh?
SECOND LIMITING FACTOR
SECOND -- Even if we're not blaming and knocked off our center, when we are so concerned that life turn out the way it SHOULD, we refuse to take chances, take any risks, stretch, reach outside the box of possibilities.
But the way to make the impossible happen, the way to really thrive, the way to give God full expression through us is to be willing to take the risks, take chances.
Line from Daniel's Nahmod's song I Don't Need To Know: "I'm afraid of takin' chances as if I could damage my soul."c
There is complete freedom in releasing the assumption that we can damage our souls!
Japanese Samurai Warriors, in reminding themselves of the inevitability of loss, used the phrase, "Die before going into battle." This practice allowed a warrior to enter an episode of combat without the fear of death. He had brought himself through an experience of acceptance of death ahead of time.
He had forced himself to look at the fact that his death was a plausible outcome -- indeed, an inevitable outcome eventually.
In this way, the warrior was able to fully give himself to his mission without concern for survival. He was completely free to risk everything. Such freedom made all the difference between defeat and victory.
Remember the final line of our quote from John Randolph Price that we have used the last two weeks to describe Thriving? "I am free because I know who I am!"d
And who am I? An eternal being under the influence of a Divine Government.
So what we must do is free ourselves from the illusion that we can control life so that it turns out the way it "should." We cannot control the way things turn out! We can only "control" how we show up. We do our work, our spiritual work and our work in the world, and then realize that LIFE SIMPLY TURNS OUT THE WAY IT TURNS OUT.
The equivalent of "dying before going into battle" for us today is to accept -- as if accepting a gift -- these statements:
Life does not turn out the way it "should."
Life does not turn out the way it "shouldn't."
Life simply turns out the way it turns out.
Say with me please: Life simply turns out the way it turns out.
Tracy Goss, author of Power, writes: "When you accept that life does not turn out the way it "should," you are free to take actions that are not constrained by the need to control life so it turns out the way that it "should" (or, at the very least, to make sure life doesn't turn out the way that it "shouldn't.")"e
You must accept this "dying" - this LAST WORD ON SURRENDER -- before you can THRIVE. If you intend to THRIVE, then you must feel free to risk your reputation, your income, your position and even your relationships because all of these may be at stake. You will only take these risks when you realize now, in the long run, you really have nothing to lose.
Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind, says: "The soul must make a complete surrender of itself to the Spirit."f
With this attitude, any perceived threats will cease to hold you back because, in the end, you see that they do not affect the outcome of your life. Like the samurai, you can face death today because you know that in the outcome, in the end it's always the same.
Life turns out the way it does and because there is a power and a presence for Good in the Universe, which is God, in the end, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is in Divine Order.
Accepting that you can't control the outcome is not the end -- it's not a point of "why bother?" Rather it is the opposite. It's the point of pure potentiality, to use Deepak Chopra's phrase. "if we realized we can't control the end anyway, then why not just go for it!?"g
We are free to play full out in creating and implementing an extraordinary future, free from the fear about how things will turn out. That's why I've called this the "Last Word on Surrender"!
A NEW CONVERSATION
Hitting bottom leads to holding a new type of conversation with yourself as a result. Here are the elements of that conversation.
If you indeed have nothing to lose, then who are you to be? What choices do you have between now and the time you leave this planet? Having acquired the ability to "die before going into battle," you now have the opportunity to choose to thrive -- not just survive, or even strive -- now you can thrive for the rest of your life! You get to play the game of thriving -- you get to be the vehicle through which God fully expresses and the vehicle through which the impossible becomes possible -- because you have truly surrendered your soul to Spirit!
So now, for Father's Day, I would like to pay tribute to the men we have known in our lives. I have the names of men that I would like to acknowledge. If you are present and would like to come up to pay tribute yourself, please do so. And for me this candle is in memory of my father Robert Caldwell and my son in law Kris Johnson and my brother Jim Caldwell. Is there anyone else who would like to add a man to this list?
As you look at this garden of candles, think of the men in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Men who have planted ideas in your mind and watched you grow. Men we love and hated. Men we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Men who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do. And so we grew, blossomed and produced fruit. And so we thank them.
I think fathers must have done all the things a good gardener does. They prepared good soil and had the courage to do what was right and loving for their children. They knew they could not plant everything in their lives. Time is so short, so we choose the seeds of faith in God and national identity. We plant them as often as we can. Enough seed, and surely something will grow. God provides the watering and fertilizing and weeding. We plant with our eyes on the harvest and our children surprise us with their magnificence.
aThe Last Word on Power: Executive Reinvention for Leaders Who Must Make the Impossible Happen Tracy Goss
cDaniel's Nahmod's song I Don't Need To Know
dJohn Randolph Price The Jesus Code
eThe Last Word on Power Tracy Goss
fErnest Holmes The Science of Mind p 405