When I look back on the myriad of paths I have trodden, I am able to smile with a deep sense of satisfaction. The saying, Life Is What You Make It, rings truer than ever, and it really is more than just a mere cliché.
I love reflecting on how I am affected by and respond to different cultures, environments, adversity, words, behaviour (in the broad sense of the word), opinions, silence, mayhem, threat, kindness, appreciation etc.
In order to reflect, I have to make a conclusion or two, I will have to form an instant judgement of some kind to know what choice I should make next.
The more I experience, the more choices I am forced to make, thus the more I learn, and the more I grow from the inside as a human being.
Many of us live our lives in a comfort zone, routine, know what we like and don’t like and that’s all that matters thank you, never that keen to step outside of the subliminal safety of our oh so familiar cocoon.
If these people find themselves in a strange territory, around strangers, it can instil fear, panic, and in some extreme cases, loathing too. It is almost child like… you know when you take your young child to school for the first time, it is not uncommon for that child to be struck with irrational fear of the unknown, and becomes distressed.
It happens for many adults too; and this is a real shame.
You know, all our experiences are down to choice, everything we have learned so far, and everything we can and will learn in the future is down to choice! Choice.
Think about it, what if you decided to learn a new language over the next six months, you can do it now… there’s nothing to stop you; what difference do you think acquiring such a skill will make to the value of your life?
What about using this five letter word… SORRY! What will this do for creating harmony and understanding around you… you can say it, say it and mean it right now!
What about making that call, that approach, to that person you have always admired, always wanted to meet, have a silent sense that this person is THE one! What are you waiting for? There are two outcomes, Oui or Non. Isn’t it in your life’s interest to find out?!
We can go on to consider a host of other examples, but the real point I am making is, it is really time to throw caution to life, your LIFE.
This attitude to life is one I have embraced at an early age, it has led me to live through some crazy experiences, some bad, MOST quite wonderful. With these experiences I have acquired much; being at ease with strangers, in places I have not been before; seen a fair part of the world, but this is perhaps compared to those who stay cocooned in their comfort zone; and I am able to get by across time zones using more than my native language of English.
You now know from my an earlier blog post, that my now deceased parents could barely read or write, but they always encouraged me to make the most use of my talents, and never to limit my ambition.
I still have much to see and do, and those values drilled into me by my parents continue to burn bright and warm within. It is a message that I hope may allow you also to remove your outer garments and finally run free!
I happened upon this genuine email response to an exchange between me and a former client of mine almost exactly three years ago. I have chosen not to share what he wrote to me.
I have changed the name of the original client to Wilson for confidentiality reasons. When reading it, I was thinking, just how much I have grown both professionally and personally since this communication; I have chosen not to use the WP proof reader, as I want it to remain authentic. Well, see it below.
Oh, and there is a link to a site in my reply that you’re welcome to click through and use.
Wednesday 15, February, 2012
Let me address your open and candid note.
You are 100% correct, lying offers no long-term benefit. In the short-term it may disguise, divert, distort, deviate, deny, disrupt and dampen whatever it is you seek to achieve. In the long-term it will ultimately, and surely destroy many of the good things you have nurtured prior to CHOOSING to lie, and moreover any potential good, that is definitely heading your way.
Good things ‘definitely heading your way’ is worth repeating silently and loudly… only change the your, to ‘my’ and repeat it everyday.
We are the subjects of our up-bringing, our environment, our education, our social groups, but most certainly, our thinking!
Wilson, you have expressed how frequently you were beaten for lying, and for not lying, because as I suspect, after a while, trust between you and your father was literally beaten away. I won’t comment too much on this, as being beaten by a parent; right or wrong is a topic that requires much deeper analysis than a mere comment here.
However Wilson, those incidents cannot easily be extinguished, they are a part of who you were, but not necessarily a part of what you can and will become.
This as I am sure you are aware, is entirely your choice – you can let your past access your present if you choose, and subsequently sabotage your present, or you can use your past as a rock solid benchmark for your future – something you have wonderfully shown to be doing with your son.
So STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP; if you will excuse the pun, or hanging onto the pain from those events – it achieves little now, or into the future, unless you allow it to.
Take it from me, you have much to celebrate, and be thankful for – those events have led you here.
What I find admirable in you, is change is already fully underway, and you know it; this for me speaks volumes of who you are Wilson.
You know what your responsibilities now in mid-life are, and should be. You know that you have something remarkable and worth cherishing in your hands. You also know that in the past you have taken a left turn, when you should have turned right; and you can now reflect on why too.
Wilson, you just know!
What is particularly exciting right now, is that you are not stopping there. No, you fully recognise and accept that you have weaknesses; flaws that if left unchecked, can undo much of what you have gained in recent years.
The fact that you have sought my support, is clearly indicative that leaving it unchecked is not on your radar…
Wilson, I give my commitment, that as long as I am your coach, you will not be allowed to call on your weaknesses to dilute your strengths, it WILL NOT HAPPEN, but I must demand your total commitment too.
Not accepting and liking who you are, and what you represent to others is the basis for all LIES.
A lie is a MASK, it is nothing more than that. Deviance and the wish to gain unfair advantage is a false motivation for its use. Accept yourself, LOVE yourself, and others will accept and LOVE YOU, the REAL you!
This is what you deeply would have been yearning for as a boy, and Wilson, trust me, this is what you will want in old age – ACCEPTANCE.
Remember how were told, ‘Once a man, twice a child’?
I have accepted everything you have told me, it hasn’t entered my mind that you have embarked on another false journey, and I am a passenger along the way.
It’s because of your honesty and TRUTH, that success is profoundly assured. These three qualities are the happiest of siblings. Add to it, determination, a positive mental condition, humility, confidence, love, and the depth of character you clearly have to arrive at this very moment in your life, and there really is NOTHING you cannot achieve Wilson.
Wilson, I recognise your professional status matters to you; I will not negate the other important activities in your life, but will place greater emphasis with your permission, on your career and professional development.
Get this right, and I suspect, all else will fall into place.
As part of my forward planning, will you do do the following for me please… sign up to this site http://strengths.gallup.com/default.aspx complete the POSITIVE IMPACT questionnaire, submit for a score, and if you still wish to proceed with me as your coach, print off a copy of the report for your records or e-mail it to me for my confidential viewing please.
If you choose to go forward Wilson, I will require a private address to which I can post to you selected correspondence.
If you do not, this is fine, I will continue to make available words and writing of inspiration to the general public, and will always welcome your contact.
I have every confidence in you Wilson; I am extremely empathetic, and see a positive outcome for you, regardless of whatever method you choose to get there.
I wish you well and success.
John G. E. Frye, Assoc CIPD, Dip LC (Inst. LCI) AMAC
My parents have since passed, my mother in 1995 and my father in 2008. I am an island boy at heart with island values, raised on the simple things… love, family, Jesus, and knowing definitively what is right and what is wrong.
However I have been molded by and through the big city urban lifestyle; this joint life journey has proved to be invaluable in so many ways. My parents were more or less illiterate, no book reading before bed time for me, but they put me through school; several in fact, in addition to Sunday school, you see in the early years, me, my closest sister in terms of age, and my parents would have to share a single room, across four properties.
Somewhere along the line, my parents managed to engage with local authorities and at last I had my room at the age of 9 in a three bed abode. I had one last family move at the age of 10, where this stay lasted for 13 years.
These moves helped my social skills, because I had to adapt to new people, and make new friends regularly during those incredibly important formative years.
As a black boy growing up in the UK, my friends in those early years were mainly white, I never had any real issues with race, in fact I loved my childhood, loved my friends, and again looking back, these social interactions has proved to be invaluable to me as an adult.
On one side of my family via my mother, I have a Portuguese heritage, and of course there must be some African heritage too, because my island was one of many ports of call for the slave ships. It is a heritage dear reader that I am deeply proud of.
I was always surrounded by music. My mother and my father were always singing in our home. I also had an instinct and talent for performing… was often chosen to act, sing and dance during my school years, and was a capable sportsman.
These attributes led me to the world of Martial Arts, I was always tempted to becoming a boxer, and I must say, if I had, I am convinced I would have made it to the top, but my looks may have suffered, though my bank balance would have been healthy, I also became a Principal Dancer, small-scale acting, and mucho singing in a long-established vocal quartet, and solo as a Jazz/crooner singer across the open seas and on dry land at select venues like London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines among them.
This performing phase was and remains the best years of my life (so far), not just because I loved what I was doing and getting paid for it, but I travelled far and wide, soaked up different cultures, social practices, languages, for the most part, warm to hot sunshine and developed even more attuned people skills.
I eventually got married (it seems to happen to us all) and I became a father, a father of girls. Now I draw no distinction between having girls as opposed to boys, but it seems to me that I have been surrounded by women my entire life. I love my girls to bits. I have made mistakes, let them down, did not make them always my number 1 priority, there are many reasons for that, but they know I love them deeply; it is a bond like no other and it draws intense emotion just recalling how I feel about them now. LOVE is a common expression between us. We still have some fine experiences to share going forward, so no regrets, just acknowledgement of what was and what can be.
If I had not become a father, I can only imagine where my performing career may have led…
One of my qualities is I don’t like starting something and not seeing it through. This goes for relationships, projects, anything where there’s a goal or mission to be completed… even vacuuming, or ironing is taken on with this precision, no retreat no surrender mindset… it is both a virtue, but also a weakness.
You see when I agree with someone, anyone that I will do something and they commit to the same, I will always find a way to making it happen. I like to think (correction, I know) that I am reliable, and not just in arriving at an agreed location on time, every time. So trust plays a big part in that ‘John, you had better not say you’re going to do this, and then when the going gets tough, you look to bail out’ (this is not me reader); I am driven, so the only time I have ever stopped creating and realising, is when I have formed a partnership with someone who does not share my integrity or commitment.
It rarely happens, but when it does, it lowers my faith in human kind. Why? Because I like to believe when someone says this or that, I choose to believe that they mean it. So I guess with the me first mentality so readily available in the 21st century, I guess I have some naivety; it is a default quality learned through those formative years, because back then, where the simple things occupied our minds and gave us such joy, trust was never in question for me – it is different now, but I must say, only the rare few do not keep their word, it is very rare in fact – so I have been pretty lucky in truth.
I have rekindled my faith in prayer, and it is making a real difference. Each week I will take a two-mile or so walk to a local church; not during a service, but just to enter, kneel and pray for those that matter and for those that do not – and the usual Peace and Love for all. I also make some special requests, seek forgiveness always, and leave the church for the open streets feeling wholly refreshed.
Recently I have experienced some stuff that in every sense of the word, is unjustified. I could of course choose to react and let myself down, my girls and 2-year-old grandson down, but moreover the values that have so lovingly been bestowed upon me by my mother and father, would be ripped to shreds. I won’t let that happen under any circumstances. I have a brand, a reputation that I am proud of and acquired through everything that I do and have done, and I can honestly say it represents Good.
This Blog is one fine thread of many of who I am – so no, reaction is not good and not my way, it is laced with emotion and by default, this is prone to unpredictability. I choose to respond… I respond with silence, self-discipline, dignity and a determined focus on what I need to do; and I am attracting the ‘right people’ that have seemingly been sent to me to aid my resilience and help me to move forward. I also believe in Karma.
I am in great shape health-wise, I feel like I am 25, but of course the flesh is at times a little weak, so there are experiences awaiting me that will shape who I am further. I am already meeting a broad range of people (mostly women) and enjoying interactions that are on a different level to what has gone before, and they are demonstrating that they are close to the page or on the same page that I am.
As I have moved to the head of the family, my girls and my G’son are now firmly my priority in terms of planning for the future. To do this, I have several targets in my view finder, and as I have said earlier, I am driven, so should anyone wish to throw a grenade or three in my way, two words, don’t bother.
It is clear to me, that so many of us spend our waking lives wanting to be happy, wanting to feel pleasure, wanting to feel good about the imminent future, would love a BIG HUG!
Many of us too want to have our say, want people to behave just so, need to feel in control.
It is also clear to me, that the latter qualities often undermine the former. I have highlighted the control factor, because it is arguably the biggest cause of human misery.
For example, when two people have differing views, it highly likely one or both will want their view or opinion to dominate. But what if one concedes to the other, is this such a bad thing? Sometimes strength is amplified in giving way! Particularly when the other party waits in anticipation of a reaction.
When one feels the need to control, whether it is to control a person, themselves or the events around them, it is likely that the big picture is cast aside in favour of the minute pixels on the screen.
Life to me is like a giant and continuously morphing giant jigsaw… everyday when we’re blessed to wake up to another day, there’s a piece of this jigsaw waiting to be discovered. The trick is, not losing focus on the big picture; why?
Well if you do not know what the big picture looks like, if you can’t feel, hear, smell and taste it, then you will never be able to find that essential piece to add to the glorious big picture written large in your name.
How do you know when that esential piece of puzzle is present? There are three indicators… 1) you hear the silent voice in your head warning you about something, or directing you to do something. 2) a series of unexplained and unexpected events, actions or behaviours happen around you, and finally 3) a vivid dream turns into reality.
The first is clear, heed the message. The latter two requires open deep thinking; but each are offering clues if not clear pointers of what you should do immediately.
We all have a sense of what micro management feels like… yeah, it is one of my pet hates too; micro management has the effect of squeezing the air out of creativity, free thinking and vision. It is frankly one of the most annoying experiences known to any employee or worker. A micro manager does not see the big picture and will ultimately fail in their attempt to get things done the right way, if at all.
Do not micro manage your life, in fact do not attempt or wish to micro manage anyone.
Our birth right is to explore, create, discover, share, give, take, laugh, make mistakes, fail, rise, fall, grow, cry, aspire, inspire, believe, hope, motivate…. we can of course continue to add to this list, What is so interesting about a birth right list, is that there is no single quality that speaks exclusively for the ‘big picture’; focus on one quality, and you will walk blindly down a narrowing and increasingly darkening cul-de-sac!
In my work, I see this lack of big picture mentality almost everyday, whether it is in someone’s personal life or in their careers. Make no mistake, it locks out opportunity and halts forward momentum.
Tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day… it is a time for love and lovers, a time to flirt, and a time for romance. It is a time for pleasure in one form or another. So if you’re lucky to have that significant other in your life, I suggest that you keep your senses peeled for that available, ‘I am over here’ piece of puzzle to add to your Cupid picture.