Author, Consultant, Executive Coach - Helping people and organizations grow into desired results

Monday, 22 September 2008

On the Road – insights from training and travels

Hello from the city of Cairns in tropical north Queensland. I’ve completed four days of training with Unique People on the application of the NeuroPower framework (as developed by author and strategist Peter Burow) to one’s personal development and in working with clients.

The workshop looked in-depth at how neuroscience and neurobiology offer the "hard science" behind the traditionally "soft" concepts of human behaviour and interactions. I've learned a lot about the tremendous integration of knowledge across a wide variety of disciplines to produce both hands-on consulting/coaching tools and processes for personal growth.

It’s great to be in Cairns. Up here you have Australia at its most diverse: the Reef, the Rainforest and the Red of the Outback. My new colleague and friend Joe Foster put it well I think when he said “You know, I half expect to see dinosaurs roaming through the valleys here.” There’s an ancient and primordial feel to the environment here and, as a boy who grew up in landlocked diary-farming country, I find it exotic, fascinating and – at the moment – quite grounding.

For the next several weeks I will be On the Road, and as that phrase evokes the great Beat spirit of Jack Kerouac I thought I’d share a quote of his that relates to the feeling of this place that I’ve described above:
I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling. Ecstacy, even, I felt, with flashes of sudden remembrance, and feeling sweaty and drowsy I felt like sleeping and dreaming in the grass. (from Dharma Bums, 1957)
In the same novel Kerouac writes, “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”

What a great insight. You are the master of your own destiny, and your life is the canvas upon which you can write and paint the adventures of your choice – according to your rules, by your own lights. It begs the question: how many of us are willing to take full responsibility for our lives, accountability for our actions, and deal with the outcomes that arise from them?

It’s a skill not all of us have developed. Yet it’s absolutely vital, for there can be no greater responsibility than the one you take for your self. I’m not talking in the Gordon Gecko “greed is good” way, I mean in the “ensure your own oxygen mask is in place before you assist others” sense.

After all, you are the only vessel you have to take you through your adventure on the planet, yet so many people live as though they have no choice in what they do every day. And there are few things more debilitating than feeling like you have no choice in any situation - the result can be learned helplessness, depression, resentment and emotional lashing-out. So why continue to be unhappy, or play the victim?

I reckon we shy away from responsibility because it sounds scary and we might fail. So how about a reframe…Steven Covey suggests we think of it as our “response-ability,” which takes us back to Kerouac’s metaphor of a page full of our responses to the challenges and adventures of life.

When you live according to your own standard of success (rather than what you imagine everyone else is thinking) you will be happier and healthier in life.

OK let’s leave it there for now and I’ll post more insights and thoughts as my travels continue.

On that note, I’m in Cairns until 28 September, in London from 30 September -07 October, then in Canada (Montreal, Halifax and Toronto) until 16 October, followed by Hong Kong 18-21 October and finally Singapore 21-25 October before I'm back to Sydney again.

During the coming weeks I look forward to meeting more fellow travellers and friends, both On the Road and virtually, as an outgrowth of this blog.

In the meantime, travel well!

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