Are you really free?

I have yet to encounter a person who is not clear on the fact that they want more freedom in their life. It is time we inspect the definition of this laden word.

There is always a general view on what freedom means and how it can be achieved within any community. The view on freedom is directly dependent on the predominant mindset that is upheld within the community. There are, generally, two mindsets: A fear driven one, where freedom is always at risk, and an abundant one, where freedom is a shared commodity. 

Within a society that operates on the premise of financial gain, freedom is seen as whatever money can buy you. So, whatever can bring you more money will bring you more freedom.

This reinforces the notion that a society that sees freedom as limited to financial resources will do anything to make more of it, hence the extreme transactionality we encounter on the daily, not just in our jobs, but in all aspects of our lives.

Transactional behavior always stems from a mindset of fear. The fear of not surviving and the fear of stagnation. These two are the inherent drivers that act across the layers of the societal cake: The ones who have little, work to remain alive. The ones who are at the top use their money to create more of it. They are the ones free to invest. And the ones in the middle use their freedom to advance to the top and fight stagnation. It’s the struggle for a limited resource. 

It goes without saying that this very behavior is also limiting freedom towards the bottom. The less you have, the harder it is to create more of it because financial freedom never trickles down within a transactional economy. After all, the top relies on the bottom to provide their cheap labor and willingness to mindlessly consume. This can only be assured if they remain unfree, bound by tools that supposedly bring freedom, like credit cards, loans, affordable mortgages but we all know that they are really designed to rob them of freedom.

This also means that according to Maslow’s pyramid, within which we are currently living, only the wealthy have the freedom to reach transcendence and self-actualization. For the rest, living within the level of transactionality will be about working for freedom that caters to lower, less visceral needs. Full stop. 

Is this what life is about? Of course not. 

Life is nothing but a deep emotional experience. It goes without saying that self exploration and creation from one’s truth is a basic necessity that everyone needs to have unlimited access to. Without it, the greater part of society remains deprived from the very magic that is life and reduced to working and consuming assets, trapped in the illusion of toiling for reward.

This is where entrepreneurs make a difference by making one choice: Is my work going to serve my own advancement through financial gain (traditional), or is it about the creation and sharing of human value that offers freedom that becomes available to the system?

We are far less dependent on socio-political decisions than on our consciousness when it comes to our willingness to make freedom the shared commodity it is in every forest, body of water and nature altogether. 

Train all your muscles

When it comes to training our muscles, what images come to mind? Weights? Body builders? The gym card you never use? We know that keeping muscles well-oiled will help them function longer and even grow.

Sometimes we also remember to keep the brain trained through mental exercises like Sudoku and crossword puzzles. But what about those other muscles we have? We’re not made up of only intellectual intelligence- we have to look at greasing our other faculties as well. The most important muscles, the ones without which physical and mental muscles wouldn’t matter, are the emotional muscles. Yes, you heard right.

Since emotions lie at the very heart of the human experience (without emotional experiences life would be nothing at all), it is also the basis for everything of value in our existence.

That which gives our emotions depth and expression is not so much the intellectual and physical muscle, but the social one. When we are in charge of our emotional reality and we connect with our surroundings and the communities around us, only then do the physical and mental elements come into play. 

You could also say that the emotional and social layer represent the base of our impact in the world. The expression of our true self happens through actions and mental creativity, yes, but without them stemming from an emotional place of deep knowledge and social integrity, they are nothing but vain punches in the air. 

I recommend a strict regimen that takes all 4 layers into account.

When you wake up, first thing in the morning take care of your emotional muscle: Find gratitude for being alive, for waking up, for seeing the sun, for being at one with yourself, for a wonderful night’s rest, for whatever this new day might bring. Be respectful of your emotions, own them.

And if fear is in your heart, embrace it and understand where it comes from. This is also a good moment to voice an intention for the day ahead.

Only after you do this should you move forward with connecting to your surroundings to flex your social muscle. Look at the world in appreciation, wave at a neighbor, hug a tree or simply engage in constructive thoughts about the world. If social media has a tendency to aggravate you, reclaim power over your emotions and say no to it for now. If listening to the news brings anxiety, leave it out. Make this all about reconnecting with the place you are in and the people around you and do so in the light of the loving intention you have made earlier. 

Now that this is settled, you should wake up your mind. While reading is a beautiful way of kicking the machine into gear, the content of what we read impacts and can impact the delicate balance of a wonderful morning. This is why I recommend writing instead of reading, as this is a much more proactive mental exercise. Automatic writing allows the mind to pour itself onto a page and removes the blockages imposed by the conscious mind. Accessing the unconscious mind is much like purging and allowing for our fresh intention to crystalize itself. Once the conscious mind reads these outpourings, they are like an agreement we can hold ourselves accountable to. 

When all this is done, the physical machine is ready to warm up. This does not necessarily mean kickboxing and 500 push-ups. Simply use your body to express what you are feeling. If you feel fear, then move in order to free yourself of it. If you feel restlessness, transform it into body heat. If you feel happiness, express it by dancing in the kitchen. If you need to scream, scream. I implore you to allow your body to express all the energy it has built up inside, in ways that are not harmful, of course.

You are a beautiful, wholesome and complete being with parts that are deeply interconnected and should be treated as such. Don’t just train the obvious.

Why do you work?

Why do you work? While this question seems trivial, its answer could leave many of you baffled. 

In many cases we obviously work because we need money. To live, to thrive, to develop. But while there are societal reasons for this, they are not as prominent as the darker, deeper reasons that make us work for money: We seek safety in money. And the one thing that we can get money for is our work. Ergo, we work to be safe, to fit in, to become part of a narrative. 

There are important instances where this is a must: When you can barely provide for your family, keep a roof over your head and are facing emergencies. Society demands payment for these things. Under these circumstances, you have to see your work as a gateway towards provisions. 

But what about all the other cases? When we have a choice as to why we work, we tend to fall into the same trap as those seeking to survive: To extend and strengthen our lack of safety.

Is this a valid reason to seek employment? Is this a good reason to start a business? Is this really the umbrella under which you choose to hire people, develop products and services and manage relationships with suppliers and customers? Because if you do, then you have to know that your entire operation has been founded on the aversion of destruction, the reinforcement of safety and the avoidance of failure. 

This is a reality that can be felt by clients, as well as corporations that seek to extend their power without clear aim. Aggressive and competitive cultures are the hallmark of executives’ mindsets to fortify their ivory tower of power. When we become greedy, we don’t just do it because we are obsessed, but also because we seek to remove ourselves from the masses as this gives us a sense of being untouchable and safe for the rest of our life.

As you may have read, many of the uber rich have a tendency to invest in safekeeping practices. They build bunkers, panic rooms, buy armored vehicles and hide behind the thickest of walls. Not because they feel exposed, but because they want to guard something. 

The reason why we work should always support the reason why we are alive. Otherwise, work becomes disconnected. If you turn to nature you will realize that nothing seeks to work towards the illusion of safety. Total certainty is an impossibility that is engrained deep in the genetics of the universe. The likelihood for things to unfold and eventually dissolve is 100%. 

To try and remove oneself from this process through money and power is as foolish as the idea of living a safe life. There is no such thing. 

Therefore, the “better” reason to work is one of total fearless self-exploration. Work turns meaningful when it fuels your emotional experiences and becomes a truthful expression of yourself. When work is not here to fill the wallet but the heart with the whole range of emotions while still bringing you bliss (money is part of this because it functions as a tool to expand your bliss), everything falls into place. With such a reason at the core of your work, you will always create the things you care about the most. And there is always someone who needs that thing, and who is willing to pay a premium for it. 

This is how you connect the magical dots of what life is about: Serving your own bliss by serving others with opportunities to find their own bliss. This is how we expand as individuals and as a species. 

Become aware of the reasons why you work. Are you keeping the illusion of false survivalism alive? Or are you truly on the path of embracing the full range of life’s emotions with what you do? This is your power.

Mental Wealth

With everybody talking about the rising cost of living, rampant inflation and a possible recession, we have to ask ourselves: What is equity to us? What role does wealth play in our lives?

Have we limited our understanding of wealth to financial means? Financial wealth is a wonderful instrument to increase one’s freedom. It is a tool that helps us apply our true self in the world. It can unlock experiences that become blissful memories. However, it is not the ultimate equity to have. It cannot give us access to our potential. 

But there is a form of wealth that sits at the heart of our lives. It is our Mental Wealth. If we don’t hold 100% of all the shares of our mental portfolio (instinct, intuition, social and intellectual intelligence), nothing else matters.

Our mind is a beautiful machine that is here to protect and serve us because it is conceived as a servant to our expansion. It is “single-minded” in doing so. It will do whatever we tell it to do and take the boatload of work off our shoulders to run it subconsciously. If we decide to give away our shares of control to outside forces like conditioning, trauma or dogmatic beliefs, it will not question our motives because it still assumes lovingly that we know what we are doing. Except that now there are many shareholders sitting in the boardroom of your mind. And that is obviously a problem. It’s getting noisy and irritating. 

Losing mental stock compromises our mind with outside influence. It creates dissociation with ourselves. We become clouded and confused. Even the powerful sun becomes invisible in dense fog. This state of dwindling ownership moves us away from our potential, our holy grail.

So much so, that our mind starts to define itself in relation to the new owners, and because our mind wants to keep us protected, it abides. Our self preservation instincts flare up, our intuition goes silent, but our intellectuality, the intelligence used to measure up and compete with the world, ramps up to full speed. Before you know it, you have given away all the seats to your most precious possession- Your beautiful mind. 

To fully own your mind means to rely on the self. It means to be free of foreign ownership. It means to honor intuition as our source, instinct as our protector in the face of real danger and social and intellectual intelligence as servants to express our intuition’s teachings. This is why a mind that is fully owned is the most powerful device in the world: It connects our truth with our purest deeds. It turns raw potential into actions for which financial wealth is received. 

Mental Wealth is achieved when we invest in this ownership…

Play your own game

Someone once said, “Life is not a battle, it’s a game.” I couldn’t agree more. However, what game are we playing?

If you catch yourself asking uncomfortable questions and feeling emotionally disconnected, doubtful or confused it’s because you are not playing your own game!

You are naturally playful. It’s the way you learn about yourself and the world. When you play using your intuition and your natural inclinations, that is, a game played by your own rules, you find elation and excitement and develop yourself further. This game activates your potential and allows you to apply it in joyful ways. 

You are born to play this game. And your work is nothing but you breathing life into this game in ways that lets you share it with the world.

When you play this game, every step of the way is a move on your game board that you own with full accountability and responsibility, making you the master of your life.  

However, even though you are born into your own game, you soon leave it in favor of a hurtful and external one: the game called “society.”

This game is one that is not specifically designed for you and it does not promote personal development. It promotes social dominance over others. 

It’s the game of battle, pain and struggle. It’s the game of self preservation and advantage. It’s the game of winners, losers, victory and defeat. It’s the game of saturated, overcrowded markets and obnoxious marketing, all of which bear the emotional weight of fear and noise at the expense of self ownership. In this game you are always OWNED by the rules, you never own them. 

This explains the state our economies are in. It displays the inner workings of our hurtful, anti-social ways. It pinpoints the source of our sadness- a game of fear that has replaced a game of self-love and abundance. 

Its systemic resilience is massive. Schools and education are doing their best to prepare us for this game by spreading its rules: you have to be the best at whatever it is you’re doing, you have to beat the others, you must be a winner

This is all stress, stress, stress. No wonder exhaustion is the foundation of our work.

So, what can you do?

Finding back to your own game is a slow path. It requires you to admit that you’ve been playing someone else’s game all this time; that you are raw and confused. It requires you to understand how you got there and that you yearn for change. Only then can you rediscover the rules that live within you: the things that matter to you most and that lie buried under the rubble of the game of society, aka FEAR.  

Life is an all-or-nothing affair

Business is risky. To be out there working away, be it as an employee or an employer involves dealing with issues around safety and comfort. Our decisions hinge on this. We ask: what is the consequence? What will change? How can I maintain my comfort? How can I make myself safer?

While these questions are understandable because they stem from our survival-worried lizard brain, they are obviously not very beneficial for our development and progression. Safety obsession is not a natural thing, but we have normalized it to a point where most of our lives are about making ourselves feel safe while still taking entrepreneurial risks. A balance act that is not just impossible but emotionally very taxing.

We want to build a legacy, but we don’t want to go on the dark journey of uncertainty that is life. We want to impact people, but we don’t want to run the risk of being hurt by them. We want to fall in love, but we don’t want to have our heart broken. We want a puppy, but we never want it to die. None of these concepts are inherent to life; they deny life. 

Work based on such a mindset is a painful affair because it does not push things forward but solidifies this fearful attitude. Painful because while we do such things, our heart clearly craves the freedom that comes with launching oneself into the void. 

As long as we keep the false belief alive that life is about being safe and improving upon this safety- the very message most of our parents drilled into our heads- we will not be able to fall into it and fulfill the truth that waits patiently within us to become the source from which we can beautifully create. 

As long as we believe our mother’s sincere and well intentioned warnings about the dangers of a difficult world, our protective brain will first seek to find that safety before progressing, and the impossible dance will continue ad infinitum.

To kiss this mother goodbye, to release ourselves from the choke hold of an umbilical cord that has wrapped itself around our neck and that is infesting our work attitude as much as our workplaces, is a duty we have to fulfill for ourselves. 

As we fall out of the nest and spread our wings, we will embrace a new kind of guidance: The one that comes from within. The fierce and wild one. Because out there in the open, the only thing that will allow you to enjoy your path is not cautiousness, but a fearless mind that is aligned with a burning heart. When the two are aligned, we become the masters of our thoughts and, as such, the masters of our reality. 

Your idols are not your idols because of their achievements and their financial success, but because of their trailblazing, pioneering work. Because they are fearless artists of the self and they are not controlled by a false existential fear they are seeking to balance with their entrepreneurial cravings. 

Life is not a compromise. Life is an all-or-nothing affair. You are either an apple tree, or you’re not. So stop being half of something and teach your mind to incrementally step into its natural, initial curiosity and go all in.

Business as a living, breathing organism

What makes an organism a perfect system? The simple answer: Every cell has access to all information and there is clear and complete communication happening all the time, at every level. 

Every cell understands the worthy and magical mission it supports: The experience of life. This makes a natural organism the most efficient value creation machine in the universe. Everything is in a constant and total flow, and nothing that is unnatural to it can trouble this flow. Because of this, the body is complete and holistic. There is no need to add other organs or to pervert them into taking on roles that are unnatural to the entire system. It is completely self-sufficient in its operations and adapts perfectly to changing circumstances without jeopardizing its central objective. 

If only our businesses were built this way. Even though “leaders” will use the analogy of an organism in entrepreneurship, almost every aspect of an organism is being ignored. Our organizations fail to develop a worthy plan that is shared with every cell within the system. In our transactional business culture, the only thing the departments know is that the system exists to make money. 

Every department has to support this goal by decreasing costs and overhead all in the name of increased profitability. The great idea that holds every piece together is a financial equation, which is not the kind of information organs can run on. It kills the flow because it is not something cells, or people, care enough about to engage in. Without a worthy human mission under your belt, it is clear that the glue that is supposed to make organs work in tandem starts to crack and fall apart. 

Friction increases and departments start to fight their own war, the lack of a clear purpose is replaced with pointless productivity. The blame for missed revenue targets gets passed around, but victories are claimed by the specific departments that close the deal. Whatever happens, there is never a true sense of unity, because the reason that brought people together is an inhuman one.

No one will stand up and support or fight for such an organism because the only thing they can identify with is a paycheck, and they can get that at another company. If a cell stands in the deepest interrelation with the body it is a part of, the modern worker is only a visitor benefitting from momentary circumstances awarded by the business she or he is a part of. 

Such a business is a sick laboratory experiment at best. It has a pulse, but no heart. It has a brain, but no mind. A transactional business is the Frankenstein of all value entities. It might be growing and present itself with impressive numbers, but inside it is dead and hollow, plagued by relentless fluctuation, poor loyalty and interdepartmental friction excesses. 

We keep these businesses alive and try to extend their life, by injecting them with booster shots: Influencer marketing, PR stunts, corporate social responsibility campaigns, fundraisers, social equality promises, chief spiritual officers, ethics seminars, free yoga sessions and mental health counseling services and so on… all these first aid efforts are signs that we are trying to “heal” a body that is sick at the cell level rather than investing in building entities that have all these things naturally built in them because they run on a human-based, meaningful premise. 

A healthy system doesn’t need to rectify its culture and learn about ethics, it doesn’t need to beautify its mission statement, it doesn’t need to recruit cultural watchdogs and teach its employees how to behave correctly. It doesn’t need to win in court, fight unionizing or seek incentives to attract talent. 

All these things come naturally in a system that is set up to create meaningful human value as its mission. Value that people align with, that people agree with, where people don’t think in silos but in a common effort that is beautiful and important. 

In such a system, departments are value contributors who understand that they need each others’ support to complete the full picture. And because everybody has access to all the information, the value that unites them all, communication becomes effortless as egos diminish. 

This leads to even better value deployment and stronger relationships with the people the organization touches until all the moving parts melt into one living, breathing organism experiencing the magic of life through a business. 

P.S. Thanks for reading. Remember, if you ever want to talk about the topics I discuss or come up to our Lake Arrowhead entrepreneurship gatherings, email or call me at olivier@why-story.com; 213-310-6207.

A cluttered home is a cluttered mind

Our surroundings have such an impact on our mindset. If your environment is cluttered with STUFF, you don’t give yourself the space to BE. 

We had the opportunity to chat with Rose Lounsbury this week. Her message on simplicity and minimalism is life-changing. 

About Rose Lounsbury: She is a keynote speaker, Amazon bestselling author, and simplicity coach who helps people stop trying to balance it all and start letting it go. After struggling to balance a teaching career and 2-year-old triplets, Rose was introduced to minimalism in 2012 and her life changed. Today, she dedicates herself to helping others create happier and more fulfilling lives without all the stuff.  

We recommend decluttering your desk while you listen to this episode for a more interactive podcast experience. NOT JOKING.

Listen now:

Apple: https://apple.co/3uARPQy

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/34mxC6E

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts with me. 

Human Value Entrepreneurship

If you follow us on social media, you already know that I just launched a new podcast with my partner, Vira Egli. On the show, we go on a deep dive on how we can tap into work that makes us happy, wealthy and impactful. The kind of work we can all do.

The first episode explores the current work reality we’re in, and asks the questions: why are so many of us doing sad work? And why do we have such a destructive definition of what work is about? 

Join us and have a listen! It might very well reignite that old feeling in you that “things could be different.”

Apple: https://apple.co/3rN8EXl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3oAkRwn

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts with me. 

We are all creative

I’ve talked to you about creativity before, and I want to restate once more that we are ALL creative beings. Creativity is a state in which we have full access to the powers within us to create new pathways towards solutions. What is critical is having the ability to see ourselves in that light, and give ourselves permission to access our pools of creativity. 

Creativity is the exploration of thinking outside the box, of taking whatever little information is available and leveraging it to create something that was not previously visible to the naked eye. 

It is a resting power that lies dormant in every single one of us. There are as many creative janitors as there are creative airline pilots. There are as many creative sales people as there are creative architects.  

But, it is not always simple for us to access creativity. Writer, Seth Godin, cites our reptilian brain, or “Lizard Brain,” as the main obstacle for people to get a job done. He believes it is the single biggest reason why people don’t ship their products (aka start a business, finish a launch, write a book) on time: the reptilian brain will keep interfering with delivering results because it keeps seeing issues. 

The reptilian brain- the oldest part of our brain- is key to our own survival. It helps us recognize imminent danger. It is there to protect us and to make sure that we procreate and exist. Naturally, such a system acts as a defense mechanism against dark forces. But in a world where the imminent threats of the past (being attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger just outside our cave, for example) have largely disappeared (although sadly, way too many people still have to rely on their survival instincts), this inadequate fight or flight response is not helpful in accessing our full potential of creativity. 

Creativity challenges the status quo of safety and comfort. The essence of creativity is connecting dots that were previously unconnected. It’s risky, but there is a reason why we were given creativity at the time of our birth: to use it.  

If we keep giving fear and doubt the right of way, if fearful thinking is at the heart of our mindset, our emotions and our reality will always be tainted and dominated by such thoughts. It will be impossible to access our creativity and to use it for work that creates human value in new ways the world needs.  

Creativity is a wonderful tool that turns our human value offering into an experience, not a product, that allows people to find joy and happiness. As human value entrepreneurs, we work hard to help people overcome limiting obstacles by providing them with human value. Creativity supercharges human value to become an engaging experience that creates a bond of trust and the emotionality of joy and happiness.  

Creativity is not some nebulous thing that is suspended in thin air. It’s not something that some of us were denied. We are all creative. But, you can’t be creative when you don’t operate out of love and in awareness of your potential. Creativity requires you to know. It requires the context of your inner knowledge for it to make an impact that matters to you and your people.  

Keep it connected to your loving heart. Because love creates limitlessness. Creativity in a fearful mind is like a seed that dreams of growth but is afraid of breaking through the soil. It doesn’t work. We are not reptiles fending for our lives. We are boundless creative beings that need to use our full potential to shine our amazing light into the world.

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