07:07 Sunday morning
I thought I’d write up the notes this morning sitting out on the back deck. The weather is ripe for it that beautiful time between Spring and Summer where everything is in full bloom. Plus the Ceanothus and the Rusty Blackhaw make for a pleasant backdrop. The bees are doing their thing, pollinating the various flowers we have in the back garden. Can’t say that I like the presence of this fly though. He’s after the remnants of the dead mouse one of my cats has left behind.
The soundtrack: rustling leaves, wind chimes, airplanes, and birdsong. The sun is buried behind a wall of clouds, but the temp is still warm.
I like mornings like these. Peaceful. Semi-quiet. Un-hurried.
The journey is the destination.
Instinctively I know this, but that doesn’t make it any easier as a practice. The mind has a wonderful way of pulling you into the future to long for some far off goal or dragging you back into the past to relive some ancient memory that either makes you feel good or makes you feel bad.
The people around me - friends, colleagues, family - all seem in a hurry to get somewhere, to achieve something, to make a success of their lives, whatever that means. Of course, being a herd animal by instinct, it’s easy to get caught in the flow of what the rest of the herd are doing. Fomo is a modern day malaise that seems hard to shake.
Social media drives me nuts in its perpetuation and magnification of the success myth.
Health and well-being success.
All these endpoints make it hard to focus on the journey which is supposedly the only thing that matters. I’d prefer to live everyday like today has started, no fixed plan, loosely flowing, letting the day unfold as it wills. Yes I have things to do today, but the mindset difference is to be present with the things as they come, which I must confess, doesn’t always play well with the Get Shit Done crowd. It especially doesn’t work if you’re lackadaisical and your spouse is a ‘get shit done’ person. You can imagine the friction!
Comparisons are odious.
Social media is touchpaper for comparisons. I’ve spent more hours then I should have surfing the Net to see what other coaches are doing. Instead of being inspired, I was depressed.
I keep pausing to try to capture one of these bees in the flowers, but they fly away before I can get focused in…
Everyone is a coach, it seems, these days. Some coaches have spent thousands on an 18 month post-graduate degree learning how to be a personal and business coach. Others have spent thousands on a 5 day training course in which they learn everything they need to know to be a life|business|spiritual coach in 5 days! And with a few extra days training and a couple of more grand, these coaches can then “certify” others to be coaches too!
Such disparity makes coaches seem like the snake-oil salesmen of the old American Wild West. Throw on a suit or a fancy stylish dress, brandish your certificate, and shazam, you have the power of a genie able to make everyone’s dreams come true!
This is why I despise labels.
To be fair, most coaches, the good ones, are much more akin to the sophists of ancient Greece. Saying that, Plato and Aristotle were staunch opponents of the sophists, didn’t like their particular brand of teaching.
Snake-oil salesman or sophist? Oh the choices…
Something I asked earlier in the week:
As I hate labels, any label will do, and so I call myself a coach (I have 20 years experience, certificates, and diplomas in case you were wondering) for lack of a better label. I would call myself a philosopher, but that comes with its own baggage too, as a label.
In my head, the true coach is the 21st century equivalent of the ancient philosopher.
Philosophy is, according to Pierre Hadot, “an invitation to each human being to transform himself.”
Hadot is a French historian of ancient philosophy, or at least he was. He passed away in April 2010. He documented the centrality, decline, and the re-emergence of philosophy as a way life as it was practiced in ancient times.
To philosophise is to re-invent yourself. It is a transformation of your way of being and living, which is something that gets lost in the label of how philosophy is actually seen in the eyes of most.
Say, “I’m a philosopher” to a random person on the street, and you’re likely to get met with glazed eyes. Philosophers are stuffy academic, brainy types are they not?
“Oh and how do you make money out of that?” If they don’t ask you that directly, you can rest assured it’s crossing their minds as you speak.
Back to Hadot. This philosophical transformation is not a transition from one random self to another, it is more of a process of “becoming who one is.” or as Nietzsche liked to say, it is the process of attaining one’s “true self.”
This is what philosophy is to me.
Hadot outlines in his book, Philosophy As a Way of Life, some of the major fundamental practices of philosophy as the ancients did it:
Learning to live
Learning to die
Learning to dialogue
Learning to read
For instance on reading Hadot says:
“We have forgotten how to read: how to pause, liberate ourselves from our worries, return into ourselves, and leave aside our search for subtlety and originality, in order to meditate calmly, ruminate and let the text speak to us. This too, is a spiritual exercise, and one of the most difficult.”
Philosophy isn’t something we talk about; it’s something we do. It is the “word become flesh.”
Philosophers like Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, the Stoics, and the Epicureans, led pragmatic schools of philosophy tackling such questions as
How to cope with a friend’s death
How to work up courage
How to act well in morally difficult situations
How to make the most of life
In short, philosophy for them was the art of living.
A life examined becomes a life transformed.
Here is my education for June, July, and August:
To close the loop on comparisons…
Better we should only compare ourselves to former versions of ourselves. Anything else is self-torture. And only compare yourself to your former selves as a way to mark the evolution of you as a human being. Know this: in the end you can only be you in any particular time and place. And here’s the secret the mystical “They” don’t want you to know:
…there is no end point to aim for.
There is only continuous growth, a little every day, until you die.
To close the loop on coaches…
I am, against all odds, going to change the label of coach to suit me (if I was really brave, I would just go ahead an own the label philosopher!!)
Oh and to close the loop on the bee:
Twitter - I’ll always have a soft spot for Twitter. It’s my place for sharing quick updates and having direct conversations.
Instagram - My favourite social space for sharing my life in images, quotes, stories, and audiograms.
Facebook Page - For my Gen X homies, this is my blog away from the blog where I share stories, news, and questions for deepening the conversation.
LinkedIn - My business space where you can find my street cred and where I share learning and development, and leadership insights.
Podcast - The 21st century equivalent of the campfire. Listen here for conversations and insights about personal development.
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