All emotions are disagreements with nature.
Disagreements with nature reveal our unconsciousness.
A collection of original letters to the children of today and tomorrow about why we read and what books do for the human spirit, composed by 121 of the most interesting and inspiring humans in our world
One of the great cruelties and great glories of creative work is the wild discrepancy of timelines between vision and execution. When we dream up a project, we invariably underestimate the amount of time and effort required to make it a reality. Rather than a cognitive bug, perhaps this is the supreme coping mechanism of the creative mind — if we could see clearly the toil ahead at the outset of any creative endeavor, we might be too dispirited to begin, too reluctant to gamble between the heroic and the foolish, too paralyzed to walk the long and tenuous tightrope of hope and fear by which any worthwhile destination is reached.
If eight years ago, someone had told me that A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader (public library) would take eight years, I would have laughed, then cried, then promptly let go of the dream. And yet here it is, all these unfathomable years later, a reality — a collection of original letters to the children of today and tomorrow about why we read and what books do for the human spirit, composed by 121 of the most interesting and inspiring humans in our world: Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline Woodson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Oliver, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Gilbert, Shonda Rhimes, Alain de Botton, James Gleick, Anne Lamott, Diane Ackerman, Judy Blume, Eve Ensler, David Byrne, Sylvia Earle, Richard Branson, Daniel Handler, Marina Abramović, Regina Spektor, Elizabeth Alexander, Adam Gopnik, Debbie Millman, Dani Shapiro, Tim Ferriss, Ann Patchett, a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, Italy’s first woman in space, and many more immensely accomplished and largehearted artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and adventurers whose character has been shaped by a life of reading.
“We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.”
FROM THE BOOK
"We’re all — (trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria) — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.
Because life is network, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from humans. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world. Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “Science and Art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.
We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.
Our ethic must therefore be one of belonging, an imperative made all the more urgent by the many ways that human actions are fraying, rewiring, and severing biological networks worldwide. To listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, is therefore to learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.
For the Homeric Greeks, kleos, fame, was made of song. Vibrations in air contained the measure and memory of a person’s life.
To listen was therefore to learn what endures.
I turned my ear to trees, seeking ecological kleos. I found no heroes, no individuals around whom history pivots. Instead, living memories of trees, manifest in their songs, tell of life’s community, a net of relations. We humans belong within this conversation, as blood kin and incarnate members. To listen is therefore to hear our voices and those of our family.
To listen is therefore to touch a stethoscope to the skin of a landscape, to hear what stirs below.
Amazonian rain differs not just in the volume of what it has to tell — three and a half meters dropped every year, six times gray London’s count — but in its vocabulary and syntax. Invisible spores and plant chemicals mist the air above the forest canopy. These aerosols are the seeds onto which water vapor coalesces, then swells. Every teaspoon of air here has a thousand or more of these particles, a haze ten times less dense than air away from the Amazon. Wherever people aggregate in significant numbers, we loose to the sky billions of particles from engines and chimneys. Like birds in a dust bath, the vigorous flapping of our industrial lives raises a fog. Each fleck of pollution, dusty mote of soil, or spore from a woodland is a potential raindrop. The Amazon forest is vast, and over much of its extent the air is mostly a product of the forest, not the activities of industrious birds. Winds sometimes bring pulses of dust from Africa or smog from a city, but mostly the Amazon speaks its own tongue. With fewer seeds and abundant water vapor, raindrops bloat to exceptional sizes. The rain falls in big syllables, phonemes unlike the clipped rain speech of most other landmasses.
We hear the rain not through silent falling water but in the many translations delivered by objects that the rain encounters. Like any language, especially one with so much to pour out and so many waiting interpreters, the sky’s linguistic foundations are expressed in an exuberance of form: downpours turn tin roofs into sheets of screaming vibration; rain smatters onto the wings of hundreds of bats, each drop shattering, then falling into the river below the bats’ skimming flight; heavy-misted clouds sag into treetops and dampen leaves without a drop falling, their touch producing the sound of an inked brush on a page."
When life boils down, gets distilled and the real things surface, the awareness becomes that 99% of life can be pickled down into a check list.
Pilots do it preflight. You see it and hear it. "Toilet door closed? Check. Fuel full? Check. Wings bolted on? Check. and away we fly. IF they didn't do that check, your luggage might end up in the ocean. It's for all of us as passengers a good thing that the pilot is not "HOPING" everything is ok, nor assuming it. A preflight check saves lives.
So, when you go to work and sit at your ridiculous mobile workstation to be a great leader, what's your pre-flight check? Do you "HOPE" everything is ok or do you "assume" you're in "super leader" mode and just start where you left off yesterday?
I suggest to make check lists for everything. Even going into a meeting requires, for me, a check list. So, today here's my check list for sitting down and starting work each day... I may have missed a few great Chris words like "in a state of grace" but that's because I'm trying to make this readable. So please add your own special language but I'm sure you'll see the parameters of pre-flight checking before work starts.
If you'd like the slides in pdf
Reading done? Check
Change one change all Podcasts absorbed? Check
Smile on dial? Check
Think about the greatest business leader you've ever worked for. Think about the impact they had on you, your future, your family, your whole network. Now set a goal to become that greatest leader. Anything else will fall short of a reasonable aspiration.
Envy is ignorance, Imitation is suicide... we're not talking about duplication. We're all uniquely built. We bring different motives, stories, outcomes and personal matters to the table. That means ""HOW" we do "WHAT" we do is unique. So, let's for the moment, put the "HOW" aside and focus on WHAT.
WHAT SORT OF LEADER DO YOU WANT TO BECOME?
Until you answer this question thoroughly you're rudderless. It's so important to set this lighthouse on the horizon and map the outcome you want.
If you say "I want to be a leader who works hands on and achieves the results for the business and therefore causes people to want to work with me for their own financial success," then that's one lighthouse.
If you say, "I want to be a charismatic leader who inspires people to make things happen for me" that's another outcome.
STYLE IS EVERYTHING
If you say "I don't care what sort of impression I make apart from cosmetic appearance of being a leader but I really just want to focus on getting the job done and go home" That's another sort of leader.
There's no wrong answer. Well there is one wrong answer "I don't know" might be a wrong answer because then your aspirations to better wages, be a partner, own your business, might fall short.
Great leadership is a unique individual style. Not everyone wants to work for your style of leadership. So,,, there's a real probability that if you're right on target with your leadership, you'll piss some people off. Even at home.
How do deal with rejection
Learn to accept rejection
Learn to accept rejection is great wisdom from nature. If you don't take the rejection personally you can see it as a compliment. At least you are being recognised as a leader. If you seek to reject rejection, you'll end up chewing your own foot off and wondering what the bad taste is. Seeking to be liked is a very human thing to do, we all love it, but when it creeps into leadership, it's creepy.
Know what you want. Know who and what you are. Seek the sun (Success) and grow your roots (love, relationship, friends and health). Let the branches create balance (financial, social, mental) ... but always know the difference between the seeking, the branch and the roots. They seek very different things. The leader seeks the sun.
Being the best you can be is not just about suffering: it's about style. All the legends of life understood the importance of efficiency and awareness in everyday life. And the real great ones have a style all of their own. The beauty of this is life becomes a poetry in motion, the powerful presence of a Clinton, the deep mesmerising power of Arni the Terminator, the incredible depth of Princess Dianna, and the golden raw energy of Pink. Of course I could list these people for the next month and you'd agree, certain people have a winning style, and others don't.
What is it? That makes two people of similar talent different. Is it self-belief as sport coaches love to suggest. Is it the love for what they do as some new age guru's proffer? Is it a god sent vision like the spiritual teachers would have us call purpose, or, should we listen to the Buddhist way and realise it was all predestined for this rebirth journey?
These are unique suggestions. But for most of us, a style is something we have to work on, choose and practice until we're good at it. Smooth is best. Yes, there are those who make their way in the world with wild or rough style but if you meet them, as I do below the surface of their outer coating, smooth is what they are. A smooth style.
Refining a style is crucial. Grace under pressure is what we're aiming for. Style under pressure is an amazing thing and only comes with a dedication to perfection. Anything else is just wasting time. This blog and the corresponding Soundcloud Podcast will help you refine your style through a series of drills, the more you perfect these drills the more smooth and unique will be your style.
Elements of Style: Efficiency and Awareness
So these steps have two important influences on your style. First is your efficiency as you live every day of your life and wish to get as much done with as little stress and optimal enjoyment as possible. Awareness on the other hand is improved to create smoothness in style. The ability to see beyond the next step, or the next comment, the next incident. This awareness creates "smoothness" in style and this leads to your unique style.
There are seven steps to refining your style for your Work. Let's go through them as an overview first:
1. Pre Take-off Systems Check
2. Mind-space Dills. Refining those things that support and challenge your Truth.
3. Pedal to the Metal .. Full Effort. Focussing on what's right in front of you .
4. Success. Benchmarking and Self Rewarding
5. Refuelling Your Powers. Faculties, Capacities and Abilities
6. Closure of thinking for the Day - Awakening heart for the evening
7. Sleep Deep - Humility. We return to the beginning and recuperate for a new day.
Chris Walker - Author
Carrying a pack, discovering new trails, exploring the human spirit, dreaming with immensity, and gaining far away horizons: escaping the destiny of the sedentary, loving above all the supreme liberty of the human spirit at one withnature. This is Chris Walker’s life! Like the trails he explores with a pack on his back high in the mountains,unravelling the mysteries of harmony and focus at work or in relationship creates something special for any individual who decides to explore the wondersof it. A uniqueness, a resilience to the instability of conventional attitudes, a realfreedom that only the human heart can fully understand. Chris is a free spirit, a nomad. He follows his heart and helps others do the same. Are you ready to explore it?