To make my heart sing!

The Coach's Notes #40

Today is the last day of the month. We’re officially into summer, and we’re over the half-way mark of the year. 

Are you where you thought you’d be in terms of your goals and ambitions for 2019?

Perhaps it’s a good time to stop and reflect on where you are exactly. What have you ticked off? What’s still to come? What adjustments to the plan do you need to make?

Or maybe it’s time to trash the old plan and a start a new one. It’s your circus; your rules! But be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, as they say.

This week I worked on refining the value proposition for The Notes and it boils down to this:

The Coach’s Notes is

A newsletter about life for those who care about life-long learning in its broadest sense.

One of the things I know about myself is that I am a bit of a Renaissance Man. Not in the sense that I am clever, or anything, but in the true Renaissance Man idealism that a person should embrace all knowledge and develop themselves as fully as possible and be skilled across an array of areas to include intellectual, physical, artistic, and social pursuits. 

I’m saying Renaissance Man because that’s the colloquial term. I, of course, mean Renaissance Person.

We all have an almost boundless capacity for self-development. A Renaissance Person believes that a broad base of knowledge that can be combined to form different patterns is the most important asset one could have. It’s certainly one of my highest values, the one that I hold most dear. It’s the value that makes me most unhappy if it’s not being fulfilled. It’s the reason I get frustrated when I feel like I’m being forced down the narrow path of specialisation.

Charlie Munger, Vice-President of Berkshire-Hathaway, a close associate of Warren Buffett, put it this way: 

“You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.”

And Steve Jobs:

“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.”

That’s my goal: to make my heart sing!

And if you are of this persuasion too, I hope that the things I share with you through these Notes prompt you to pursue a deeper understand of things, and to take delight in tumbling down as many rabbit holes as you have time for.

I’ll leave you with this as I head off to the studio to meet Viki Dean for a conversation on resilience and how to bounce back from bullying, which is the topic for the next episode of my conversational podcast, the Havana Cafe Sessions:

The Renaissance Person uses the full capacity of their being and have these traits in common:

1) Curious

2) Risk-taker

3) Creative

4) Have perseverance and self-discipline

5) Have a thirst for knowledge and new experiences

6) Strive for excellence physically, intellectually, artistically and socially  

7) And most importantly, they are always learning

A light touch introduction to living the life of a Renaissance Person is Michael Gelb’s awesome book: How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Seven Steps to Genius Everyday.

Here are the 7 steps:

Curiosity (Curiosita) – An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

Demonstration (Dimonstrazione) – A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and willingness to learn from mistakes.

Sensation (Sensazione) – The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

Smoke (Sfumato) – Becoming open to the unknown. A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.

Art and Science (Arte/Scienza) – Whole-Brain thinking. The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.

The Body (Corporalita) – The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise. Balancing the body and mind.

Connection (Connessione) – A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.


#48: Find an island; Turn inward; Discover your true strength. The message came in loud and clear: the journey inward is one that we must make in earnest at some point in our lives, usually after we’re done chasing external validation from things like success (whatever that means) material goods, esteem of peers, acceptance into the herd, all these things we are chasing and chasing, until one day we grow tired of chasing and we sit on a rock and we wonder, what is it all for, this thing called life?

#49: And what are you looking for when you turn inward?

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring 

Will be to arrive where we started 

And know the place for the first time. - Little Gidding :

Jung says that half of our life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, and that the second half is about going inward and letting go of it.

Letting go of the ego. If your life is bound in your ego, how do you let it go without losing yourself? Is that the point - you have to lose yourself in order to truly find your SELF, the self we lost sight of a long time ago as we were socialised into society by our parents and teachers and padres and peers and friends, and everyone with a different version of the story of who you are and who you should be, until one day, you forget who you really are and become the persona that is a reflection of you, an echo of the real you.

Look into the mirror and be the looking-glass and the eye doing the looking, what do you see?

#50: Follow the White Rabbit!

Alice[to the Queen] I was expecting someone else!

Queen of Hearts: You don't know your own mind!

Alice: It's nearly a complete stranger!

Queen of Hearts: What you claim not to know is merely what you've denied. You've recaptured your vagrant memories: what are you doing with them?! You once rejected my attempts to control our lives forcefully, but now you've allowed another to succeed in my role!

Alice: I won't miss your tentacles.

Queen of Hearts[infuriated] You'd prefer the hot stinking breath and unyielding attentions of a potent, unreasoning, unfeeling hellraiser?! I don't think so!

Alice: Can you give me more than a warning? Caterpillar said you might help!

Queen of Hearts: I'd need a better reason to respond than what's currently on offer!

Alice: If you don't, we're all doomed!

Queen of Hearts: Not doomed. Forgotten! I may survive here, but you're finished! You see the pattern of destruction, I know you do! The train is trying to destroy all evidence of your past and especially the fire. Now, who would want that? Who benefits from your madness?!

Alice: The destruction of Wonderland... is the destruction of me?!

Queen of Hearts: Indeed! And vice versa!

Alice: I've set it in motion, I can derail it. This is good for me! I'm not insane! I didn't kill my family. I am fine. I'm not mad, I'm innocent - I mean, not guilty! [sees the tentacles wrapping around her] What's happening, what are you doing?!

Queen of Hearts: The train must be stopped, but there's more to do. Your view conceals a tragedy. The whole truth you 'claim' to seek eludes you because you won't look at what's around you! [swallows Alice; Inside Alice's memories] There is no method in this madness!

Dr Wilson: My professional opinion? Madness is often a treatable disease, though perhaps not in this case.

Queen of Hearts: Authority must be obeyed, or it must be overthrown!

Nurse Witless: 'Cruel to be kind', that's my technique as they say, but she's as mad as a hatter, poor dearie!

Dr Bumby: Worst is over, and over, and over. Forget it, Alice - forget it!


Your musical intermission:


#51: I’ve started re-reading the Dharma Bums. I was in the mood for some Kerouac this week both his style and substance. And the Dharma Bums hits about where my mind is at the moment - powering down, simplifying, and stealing back my time and attention from the distraction and the noise that is other people and their agendas.

The Dharma Bums:

Japhy leaping up: “I’ve been reading Whitman, know what he says, Cheer up slaves, and horrify foreign despots, he means that’s the attitude for the Bard, the Zen Lunacy bard of old desert paths, see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils and deodorants and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ’em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures…

Rucksack revolution, yes please!

OK lovely people. If you’ve read this far, BIG thank you. I appreciate your time and attention.

Let’s keep the conversation going on social. You can find me in the usual places: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

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Peace and love to you,

Clay