The Worst Boss In The World. That would be YOU.

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Horrible Bosses 2 is due for release this month. Which got me thinking about bosses, and work, and stuff.

A popular belief is that the main reason people quit their jobs is because of pay. Not so according to just about every study done in the past decade, including the massive State Of The Global Workplace survey by Gallup [the same survey that reports worldwide employee engagement at a whopping 13%].

A bad boss is the number one reason people quit their job. As the saying goes, “People quit their boss, not their job”. So I guess Horrible Bosses is a pretty good premise for a movie, since it’s probably effected every one of us at some time in our working careers.

There is, however, another way of looking at this whole boss thing. Sure, you may have a boss at work. But is he or she really the boss of you?

You manage your day, your time, where you work, and your career. You manage how you do your job, how you sell your services, the way you talk to others, and the way others think of you.

The only person who’s seen every performance you’ve ever done is you. The only person who has seen every email you’ve written, and every meeting you’ve been to, is you.

The real boss of you is YOU. You are in charge. And chances are that you’re not doing a very good job at being your own boss. That the boss of you reckons you’re not good enough, not talented enough, and not clever enough. That the boss of you reckons you’re a bit of a fraud, is seldom proud of your work, and is often really hard on you for not being as good as the others. That the boss of you really is the worst boss in the world.

And just in case you’re not sure, pause for a moment to listen, and hear what the boss of you is saying [hint: it’s the voice in your head].

Being a good boss is a choice. If you and your boss – the boss of you – choose to agree that you are really good at what you do; that you do have a whole heap of talent; and that you do have much to contribute to the conversation, then that’s just how it will be.

And there may not be a thousand people giving you a standing ovation as you leave your desk at the end of your Monday. That’s okay. At least you’re working for a great boss.

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What’s the BIG taboo in your life?

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The Pillow Book

It used to be the custom that Japanese parents gave young people who were about to be married a ‘pillow book’. This was a small volume of wood-block prints, showing all the details of sexual intercourse. It spared parents the embarrassment of having to explain ‘the facts of life’ face-to-face.

Today we can get easy access to such information online, in Cleo or Cosmopolitan magazine, in a sex shop, or in a book shop. The bottom line is that sex is no longer a taboo, like it used to be. And young people these days usually know a lot more about sex that their parents do anyway.

But if sex is no longer the BIG taboo, what is? Surely there is always something taboo, something repressed, something unadmitted. What would be The Book that fathers and mothers might slip to their sons and daughters, without ever admitting it openly?

I reckon The Book would be called ‘The Alien From Inner Space’. This is a book that tells our children how we have forgotten who we really are – the real YOU – as we live and hide behind a mask; as we never trust our instincts or intuition; as we blindly follow where all others go because we don’t have a sense of our self, or what makes us unique and different.

This is, in my view, the BIG taboo today. The taboo against knowing and being who you really are. We never talk about it. “So, where do you live?” we ask the person we’ve just met at a dinner party. The real, Brand You question would be “So, what do you live for?”, and yet we never go there. It just feels awkward. Unnatural. Pretentious perhaps. Taboo actually.

Who we are becomes alien to us – ‘The Alien From Inner Space’ – as we get nibbled to death by ducks and distracted by tiny [yet seemingly VERY important] sideshows such as looking good, being successful, being popular, being busy, getting ahead, and not missing out on anything.

And suppose you did, for a moment, manage to find the confidence and sense of self to walk the road less travelled – your road – everyone else would immediately stick a label on your back that says different, or weird, or radical, even fanatical. And before long you’ll start being like everyone else again, because you just can’t bear being so different.

Jim Morrison said it like this:

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.

Now Jim may have been messed up in some ways, and his flame did burn out at a young age. That was Jim. And the taboo against knowing and being who you are sure wasn’t one of Jim’s problems.

Like Jim, the book I pass on to my children – ‘The Alien From Inner Space’ – contains no sermons, no shoulds and no oughts. Instead it reminds them to feel, encourages them to look on the inside before the outside, and prompts them to trust and put store in their own experiences as the basis for living their life.

Rock on!

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Survive or Thrive. It’s in Your Hands.

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Bad news is relentless. The media brings one turmoil after another into our living rooms and our lives. There is no escape as we get nibbled to death by ducks, slowly but surely [unless, like my friend Carl, you never listen to or read the news].

No longer high on dreams or possibilities, we have settled for less. We have given up on optimism. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that this is just the way it is, and this is just the way it always will be. “Hey, it’s a fucked up, crazy world.”

And so we exist, in survival mode – making it nervously, cautiously, and safely from one day to the next. Resolved to carve out our own safety zones, and keep our heads down as we try and keep out of harm’s way, and not care too much.

Every now and then we do take out the dreams that are stashed away in the tiny corner of our heart. We hold them in our hands, look at them wistfully, shake our head at our youthful idealism [because we are older and wiser and know better], put them back in their tiny corner, and go back to playing it safe.

But not everybody has given up. In the middle of the evening edition of The World News, there is a movement. There are people want to thrive, not just survive. There are people who want to be part of something bigger, something greater, something beyond the limits of playing it safe in a world of bad news.

If that’s you, “Three cheers for you!” Now get out there and start changing shit …

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a Zen story

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One day a traveler came to the banks of a wide and deep river. There was no way to cross and he walked along the edge of the water for miles, feeling hopeless.

Just as he was about to give up and go back the way he had come, he saw a wise Zen Master on the opposite bank of the river. The traveler called to the Master, “Oh great teacher, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river?”

The Zen Master stood for a moment, silently watching the rushing stream and then yelled to the traveler: “My friend – you are on the other side!”

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the personal revolution

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There is a revolution afoot.

The foot soldiers of this revolution are the people who want more than getting a job, working 9-5 shuffling papers and deleting emails, and then coming home, having a beer, watching TV, nagging the kids to do their homework, then going to bed, and starting over, doing it all the same the next day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, repeat until dead.

Not that these people don’t need reassurance, predictability, and security. They do. They just don’t use them as an excuse for not living. Because they want more than just being comfortable and safe.

These people know that life begins at the end of their comfort zone. They embrace creativity; spontaneity; bravery; impulse; instinct; passion; madness. Some climb mountains. Others talk to strangers in lifts. They all want to be part of something bigger, something greater, something that makes the world a better place.

There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen on the inside first, and it’s starting to happen.

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the waiting room

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For a long time it seemed to me that my life was about to begin.

But there was always something that needed to happen first, before it could begin.  Something that needed to be finished.  Something that needed to be done.  Something that needed to happen.  THEN, my life would begin.

Eventually it dawned on me that these ‘somethings’ were my life.  That I had been living my whole frickin life in the waiting room … just waiting:
… for an email to come
… for the pain to go
… for an increase in pay
… for a shorter work day
… for Friday night
… for the time to be right
… for holidays
… for better days.

“NO, that’s not for me!” I shouted as I burst out of the waiting room and exploded into action.

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Inspired by Dr Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

The greatest lesson I ever learnt at school

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When I was 11 our whole class year sat a General Knowledge test. They asked us the usual questions about people, politics, news, sport, and current affairs.  It was the last question that took us all by surprise: “What is the name of the lady who cleans the school?”

I think we all thought it was a bit of a joke question.  We all knew the cleaning lady — we saw her every day.  She was short, wore a head scarf and was in her 30s.  But none of us actually knew her name.  And so I handed in my test leaving the last question blank.  As we walked out of the classroom one of my friends asked our teacher if the last question would count toward our mark.

“Absolutely,” said our teacher.  “You will meet many people in your life.  All are equally significant.  Every one of them deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  I learned her name was Dorothy.  And it’s shaped the way I relate to everyone ever since.

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an Australian story

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Yesterday afternoon, as I was taking a walk down Crown Street in Surry Hills, I noticed an old man with a white beard and wearing a taqiyah cap being harassed by a couple of teenage kids for being ‘a bloody terrorist’ [amongst other things]. As I and a few other people stopped and turned, the kids made a bolt.

I sat down on a nearby ledge and watched the old man. To my astonishment he actually began crying. He then slowly made his way to a bench next to the library building, and before he sat down he took off his jacket. His T-shirt underneath read, “Proud to be Australian”.

RUOK? Day is today …


RUOKDay is today.

Started by Gavin Larkin, RUOK? Day is a reminder to all of us to ask someone we know who might be struggling with life, if they are OK?

While RUOK? Day is a once a year event, asking someone if they are OK is not — it’s something we can and should do every day.

To me RUOK? speaks to the power in each of us. When you understand that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realize that with just a few well-chosen words [e.g. RUOK?] you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realize just how simple life is, and how powerful you are.

Thanks Gavin, and thanks to all of you who show your care by asking the question ‘RUOK?’

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