News, views and shoes.*
*There aren’t actually any posts about shoes here. But it rhymed and the rhythm of three works well. Hence the shoes.
If you won £1m would you still go to work tomorrow?
Or, re-phrased, if money wasn’t an issue would you start living your dream and fulfilling your ambition?
If yes, then consider something my friend George Parker calls ‘distilling the essence’.
George talks about a client of his who dreamed of taking his children to the desert to spend a night camping under the stars. But money, time and responsibilities stopped him from doing so. George broke the vision down into its main elements and thus allowed his client to achieve the essence of his dream; a sand-pit in the back garden on a clear, star-lit night.
Consider the key elements of your dream and then bring those elements into the here and now. You may just surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
And it won’t cost the Earth.
And you won’t be using lack of money as another excuse to stop you from taking action and simply doing it!
Pouring with rain. Bike out earlier, I cycled around the nature reserves near the house here in BlasVegas (e.g. Blackpool). And felt free. I love that feeling. It comes when we’re in nature, immersed in the elements and everything is stripped back to simplicity. I could cycle naked and probably feel even more alive, but the saddle rash would be a nasty after-effect.
Less is more.
As a magician, if I performed one piece of magic to you as a stranger, it would have a powerful effect. But what if I then did another? And a third? Maybe even a whole sequence of magic tricks? Guess what, you’d grow bored and I would weaken the impact of the first magic experience created just for you, in that moment.
Less is more.
I have gifted so many books. Thrown the TV away years ago. Learned a lot from managing the Shaolin Warriors UK. The less material possessions I have, the less stressed and cluttered my life becomes.
Less is more.
And I could write on with many more examples. But guess what?
It’s all in the mind. For most ideas that’s where they stay.
A few posts ago I talked about the importance of carrying a notebook and pencil with you everywhere you go. Plus, keeping one by the bed (how come those best ideas come right on the edge of sleep? Although, in the cold light of day they seem not quite as brilliant as they appeared at the Witching Hour!).
Putting your idea down on paper is already far more than the vast majority of us do.
But then what?
Leaving it there the idea will simply never have chance to breathe and become fully realised. And before you know it, you’ll be jotting down your latest, brilliant idea. And that too will soon be trumped by another.
Creating the habit of recording your ideas is the first step to being more creative. Now you need to take the next step; the periodical review.
Choose a time-frame; weekly, monthly, bi-monthly and put it in your diary! Schedule time to revise your notebook and re-consider the various ideas you have had.
And then decide on one, just one idea, that you feel energised to develop, explore and bring to life.
Get in the habit of doing this. Bringing ideas off the page and into existence. Otherwise you’ll never experience their potential, your potential, and they’ll forever be all in the mind.
Until there too they are forgotten.
One of my favourite books is Mystery School. A collection of essays on magic, ritual and philosophy, it is a document of the work being done by the founder Jeff McBride and the faculty at the Mystery School in Las Vegas. I’m delighted to play my small part in their monthly offerings.
In Mystery School the book are many wise words and wisdom. One piece in particular I’ve copied below is from a leading thinker on magic and culture, David Abram.
‘Western industrial society, with its massive scale and hugely centralised economy, can hardly be seen in relation to any particular landscape or ecosystem… our society’s relation to the living biosphere can in no way be considered a reciprocal or balanced one. With thousands of acres of non-regenerating forest disappearing every hour and hundreds of species becoming extinct each month as a result of our excesses, we can hardly be surprised by the amount of epidemic illness in our culture, from increasingly severe immune dysfunctions and cancers, to widespread psychological distress, depressions and ever more frequent suicides, to the growing number of murders committed for no apparent reason by otherwise coherent individuals.
‘From an animistic perspective, the clearest source of all this distress, both physical and psychological, lies in the aforementioned violence needlessly perpetrated by our civilisation upon the ecology of the planet; only be alleviating the latter will we be able to heal the former. This may sound at first like a simple statement of faith, yet it makes eminent and obvious sense as soon as we recognise our thorough dependence upon the countless other organisms with whom we have evolved. Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotised by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect ourselves back upon ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities’ (© 2003 David Abram / The Miracle Factory, Eugene Burger, McBride Magic)
This really connected with me on a recent re-reading. We’ve paving over nature. From covering up the grass with our new driveways and decking, to new housing estates of carefully pruned plants and shrubs. The increase in digital technology gives us escapism to other realities, none of which are as textured or vibrant as our ultimate relationship with nature. And the more we pursue this, as David says, the more we see an increase in psychological and physical ills. Why are we seeking that escape?
I’ve been thinking what I can do to get back some of that connection with the bigger picture. I live by the sea, and near parks, lakes, hills and woodland. But in the closer community, in our own homes, how can we bring about a better and healthier balance?
Worthy of five minutes contemplation I feel. What are you waiting for; Dig up a paving slab and grow a plant!
Have a look at the image. What do you think the No. 1 excuse is that people use for never chasing their dreams?
I’ve spoken in the past to so many people who have shown admiration (bless ’em!) for the way I’ve always created an income stream (or varying levels!) doing what I enjoy. For me the concept or ‘work’ to make other people more money doesn’t sit well with me. If we’re going to spend the majority of our lives in ‘work’ then I want to enjoy it!
The excuses and reasons people have expressed to me when I’ve asked them what they wish they could do for a living are varied. So, I devised a test which I’ve just offered you above.
Whatever excuse you think the No. 1 reason is will be a reflection of what is actually stopping you from doing what you want to do!
It might not be something you wish you could do everyday as a job. Maybe it’s just an idea, like write that book you’ve always been thinking of. Or, visiting that certain place, or certain someone. Painting that picture. Performing in that play.
So, what did you think the No. 1 reason is? Chances are that it’s the No.1 reason you’re not doing what you’d love to do.
Conquer it and crack on! Have fun in the process, as ultimately it is the process that is the reason to do the journey itself. Not the destination.
Have fun! And no more excuses.
Really? Every day?
It’s not hard once you give it a go.
Now, this isn’t saying ‘live dangerously’, or ‘do illegal stuff’. No, no. Rather, what might you do in your daily routine that you would perhaps never consider, or maybe have thought about but not done? Could be life-changing, such as asking out that colleague who you stare at each day. Or, maybe something like heading-up a meeting. Perhaps starting a conversation with a complete stranger. Think of something that gives you an inner feeling of being fearful.
Thinking? Good. Getting sweaty palms? The fight or flight response telling you to run, baby, run? Ignore it and just go and do it.
But why bother?
Ah, looking for an excuse to get out of this eh? I understand. But if you do try it, even for a week, you’ll soon find yourself being more confident in situations and seizing opportunities.
When I first began performing as a professional magician, I would pass hotels in and around London and then stop, take a look at the massive, intimidating revolving door often complete with door-man, and feel an overwhelming urge to just move along. But soon found that instead I would simply walk up and enter, approach the main reception and ask to speak to someone in events management. Before long I was having spontaneous coffee with senior management and pitching for magic gigs.
And waiting to be found out.
I eventually handled the entertainment for several hotels.
Be ballsy. You never know what might happen! Oh, and be ready for rejection. But that’s another topic for another time.
Go forth and be scared. It’ll become a good habit.
Calling all bibliophiles! Any advice to stop a constant sniffer?
Any book, new or old, I can’t break the habit of sniffing the pages. Do you suffer with this as well? Any advice?
Whether it’s the smell of oak, coffee, muskiness, or a more unidentifiable modern whiff, my nostrils are trained to somehow absorb the book more fully than simply reading it. And I know I’m not alone…
So come on, show of hands! Who’s with me? And how can we stop this epidemic?
Or do we have to?
And the looks I get! I’m now doing my book sniffing in cubicles like some kind of drug addict. And I’ve started sniffing my Kindle!
Got to go… about to start reading an old dusty book and need to make sure nobody’s looking while I give the inside pages a quick whiff!
But that’s for another time.
However, it does lead me nicely on to my partner-in-crime Jen Allen. Jen’s new print range is now available and can be viewed here; https://goo.gl/4E5BFV From Jen’s publishers DeMontfort Fine Art ‘Jen Allen has surpassed herself with her new releases – a pair of outstanding limited editions featuring iconic superhero Batman and his villainous nemesis, the Joker. Her ‘Silent Guardian’ offers a serious exploration of the dark romance of Bruce Wayne’s heroic alter-ego, while the Joker, who is often portrayed wearing a wicked smile, is shown as a genuinely menacing personality. Intensity of character and atmosphere seeps out of every brushstroke, demonstrating precisely why Jen has achieved her enormous worldwide success.’
When inspiration strikes, what is the best way to proceed?
Write it down! The secret of the notebook. Not tapping it into a phone. No, no, no.
Why write it down? The actual process of writing your idea cements it into your thinking. But that’s only Step 1 in bringing ideas to life.
Shortly, we’ll look at Step 2. But for now, always, always carry a notebook and pen. Be like Columbo! (Except don’t always ask to borrow a pencil.) Keep a notebook by the bed, in the WC and in the car. And of course in your coat pocket, jacket pocket and jeans pocket.
Ideally, make it the same notebook. Saves money and time when it comes to Step 2:)
If you want to get things done and bring ideas to life; get a notebook (and pen).