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Month September 2014

True Courage

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Barack Obama announced yesterday he was sending 3000 troops in to support West Africa in the midst of the current outbreak of Ebola. In my book, every one of those troops deserves a medal for bravery right now just for making the decision to go. Because the thing is Ebola doesn’t discriminate between those sent in to help and the civilians on the ground. It will strike anyone down. The doctors and aid workers, the troops and engineers, the journalists covering the tragedy as it unfolds, all at risk themselves as they seek to help control the epidemic.

One of the saddest things to grasp is because it spreads through human contact, they can’t even meet the basic human need for touch. No hugs to reassure the children they are treating. No holding a dying person’s hand. Just too dangerous. It’s a horror hard to imagine.

So what does it take to make such a decision? To be willing to go into the outbreak zone and put your life on the line for others.

Among other things, I think it takes great courage.

At its core, courage is all about having heart. It’s about the willingness to act according to our values despite the presence of fear. It’s not about a lack of fear. It is about judging what is most important and then acting on that realisation. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway for the greater good.

Fortunately for most of us in our rather more sheltered corner of the world, the courage we need on a daily basis is not life-threatening even though it might feel that way. And while we may not be called upon to put our lives on the line, there are many times in our life where we must dig deep and find our courage in the face of adversity. After all, life is full of challenges and many of them will take great courage to overcome.

Next time you need to dig deep and find that courage, perhaps it might help to put it in perspective. Just turn on the news any given night for a bit of that.

Do you have the courage to live according to your values?

 

A little bit of awareness goes a long way

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Mary and I have had the great pleasure of meeting up with a lot of people recently who’ve been attending our courses, sometimes over many years. And it’s such a beautiful opportunity to share with people on a deeper level. One of the things we hear most often is how people have begun to live more consciously as a result of our workshops. Becoming aware of how they are thinking, how they are feeling, how they are responding rather than just living on autopilot, day in day out.

Most people don’t realise this is one of the great secrets of change… becoming aware.

Why? Because when you become aware, you give yourself the opportunity to step back from a situation and make a different choice. Awareness is one of the first steps to change.

Unfortunately the world is full of people living on autopilot. Taught how to act, and think in a particular way from a young age. Never questioning. Never noticing that the life they are living, the thoughts they are thinking are not really theirs but somebody else’s. What a waste of precious life.

But once you’ve mastered the ability to notice what you are thinking, notice how you are feeling, notice the choices you are making, in other words observing yourself as you would somebody else, it doesn’t take long to make massive changes. Just this weekend we had the pleasure of talking to a woman who tells me she is now unrecognisable as the woman she was 12 months ago. Her life has opened in wonderful ways she could not even have dreamed of.

I salute everyone on this journey to awareness. It takes great courage to be honest with yourself, being open to noticing your strengths and weaknesses. So much easier to blame the world and those around you.

But what do you gain by blame?

What could you gain instead by becoming more aware?

Lessons from a chainsaw

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It’s not everyday you almost cut your leg off with a chainsaw, is it?

Since my close encounter with the blade of that awesome beast I’ve rediscovered there are two types of people in the world. Not quite the glass half empty, glass half full, but a take on that. Those that believe I’m lucky and those that respond with ‘How awful’. Roughly 40/60.

And it’s been an interesting thing to watch. Because what I’ve noticed is that those people with predisposition toward seeing the good in life apply the same to me. They see me as lucky. A massively deep wound across the knee but miraculously I didn’t hit either bone or any major blood vessels. But then there are those people who have a predisposition toward the negative. And their response is always about how terrible this injury is.

The triage nurse probably put it best. Waiting for 5 hours in a fair bit of pain is not the way I normally like to spend a Saturday evening. And I don’t think the hospital staff would have taken too kindly to the bottle of red (I would have preferred to be enjoying at home with friends) as medicinal. But as she said when we enquired about the wait, you don’t want to be in there behind the closed doors. Why? Because the people in there are much worse than you. Take the guy who busted his leg with the bone sticking out. Puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it. They want to put a sign up in emergency only the hospital won’t let them. Something to the effect of ‘If you’re still waiting, be grateful, because it means you’re not dying’.

In the days following, I have learned even more. I could have cancelled the gig in Adelaide and stayed at home for instance. But with nothing to distract me I’d only have felt every throb for four days straight. Much better to be out doing the things I love to do. Of course I had to explain my leg elevated on a bar stool. Bit hard to ignore. But as it happens there at the gig we had a woman trained as a nurse offering to help me dress the wound each day. Armed with compression bandages and sterile dressings she dressed my leg each day as only an expert can. What an incredible gift. But the thing I am most in awe of, is that she spoke of how much she valued the opportunity to give back to Mary and me for the things that she had learned over the last five years and how it had changed her life. I am truly humbled. If I’d stayed at home and moped I wouldn’t have received this gift… and nor would she.

How lucky are you?