Brexit Means Business

It’s good to be a contrarian. Well, I only say that to make myself feel better. The truth is that I don’t have a choice, it’s the way I am.

My approach to life – that the crowd is usually wrong, and the quiet observer on the side-lines usually right – was in part formed by the first serious adult book I read when I was in my teens. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay was first published in 1841. Time, however, has not swept its truths away. If anything, they are more relevant now than ever, describing the mental illness that occurs when the masses become swept up by absurdity.

There are plenty of examples of this happening, both through history and in daily life. None more so, in recent times, than Brexit.

Of course, your personal view of Brexit will inform which side you believe to be deluded, and which one sane. But in my own life the many, many people I know and associate with split almost 10:1 in favour of Remain.

Now, the key to any extraordinary popular delusion is the presence of emotion and the absence of thought. Not only the absence of thought, but the refusal to countenance, even for one second, that others might see the same as you, yet take a totally different meaning from it. In short, popular delusions are extraordinary because they are driven almost exclusively by feelings. And feelings can be very, very wrong. They need to be balanced by thought, distance and time. And that occurs best away from the crowd.

Naturally, it is for everyone to form their world-view in their own way, and I mean no criticism of anyone who does this in a balanced way. All that I am saying is that I know – down to the core of my bones and in the heart of my philosophy – that when every voice I hear is crying doom then the truth – for me – lays elsewhere.

It now seems to be set that Britain will formally leave the EU on 29th March 2019. In numerology, this ‘date of birth’ gives the number 8, the number of business, money and power. For sure then, there’s money to be made in the post-Brexit world, and for everyone who listens to the medias incessant ‘narrative of uncertainty’ I say this

If economists and financial forecasters knew what was going to happen they would become investors instead.

The time to buy is when others are selling.

Naturally, there is a deeper truth at work here, which is all about personal responsibility.

Poverty consciousness – that mindset which forever drags your thoughts down to that which you lack – simply loves to find any reason to reinforce its story. And the ‘narrative of uncertainty’ fits that bill perfectly, ignoring, as it does, the inherent uncertainty of daily life! The bottom line is therefore this – if success and profit are part of your nature and core to your purpose then Brexit will not stop you, Trump will not stop you, Le Pen will not stop you. Unless, of course, you believe that they will.

Where Ideas Lead, Money Will Always Follow

I like Julie Meyer. She’s got a strong energy and is not afraid to show it.

But most importantly she acts as a bridge between old ways of doing business and new ways of thinking. Specifically, in this video, she stands up straight and asserts what alternative-minded people have known for years, which is that WHERE IDEAS LEAD, MONEY WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW.

Give it a watch (at least the first 2 minutes anyway)

Never Negotiate with the Ego

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Almost all meetings or negotiations involve a deal between competing interests. This is as true in the vegan co-operative social enterprise as it is in the glass and mahogany C-suite on the 20th Floor. Whilst each deal looks and sounds very different they all take place against the same opponent – YOU.

Make no mistake about it. The prime gate-keeper in both Life and Business, the one dedicated to keeping you distant from what you need is YOU, and little progress can occur until that fact is swallowed whole.

The rigged economy, the international banking system, contract law, wealth, government, gender, age, race, education – all these things may well place obstacles in your way. But the last and highest fence will always be erected by self, for the lower advantage of the Ego.

The Ego is a much-misunderstood thing, often used in settings for which it was never intended. But as far as I am concerned Ego is present wherever there is a trade-off between Lower, Narrow, Personal Advantage and Higher, Broader, Common Good.

Care is required here though, because it is not always true to say that Personal Gain occurs at the expense of the Collective Good. No, there can be mutual advantage (and indeed that is what Tarot for Business Success is intended to help you find). But the real challenge is not how to untangle the Higher Good from the Narrow Gain. It is how to distinguish between feeling that we are doing good, and actually doing good.

The Baggage of Belief has no place in business, and any chance of economic success evaporates the moment that you believe you and your work are exempt from the rules because you are special. Whether we like this or not is irrelevant. It happens because economics and business are governed by transactional laws which take no account of ‘good’. This is evidenced in world where the most worthless things accrue the highest commercial value, and where time and again the founders of ethical businesses sell out to the highest bidder and wind up being exposed as the greedy and venal characters they always were. When we believe that only in our meeting, or our business or our sector is Ego under control then you can guarantee that it is, in fact, off the leash and running riot.

The solution to all this is simple, though far from easy, and it all begins with shortcuts.

Everybody believes that shortcuts are both readily available and desirable. Everybody believes – until they learn otherwise – that there is a fast track from where they are to where they want to be, and that it’s just a matter of finding it.

Short cuts do not exist. The path from A to C runs through B, and no amount of imagination or invention will make this otherwise. Everything takes time, things go up and down, you win some you lose some, you can’t please everyone all the time and things break. All these old tropes are as true today as they ever were, and the advance of technology will never dispel them. In fact, the belief that technology can fix these things is in itself the quest for a shortcut.

Give it up. Release the energy that is absorbed by searching for the fast track to paradise and instead resolve to do your time, to live your life day by day, incrementing small gains and then stabilising before the next move forward. Do not seek instant success, in fact do not always even seek success. Instead seek work and effort and challenge. Know that everything could fall down tomorrow, and that if it did it would probably be because you pushed it.

See your Ego. See your Dark Side. Never believe that it has gone away. And never negotiate with it.

NOTE: There will be a workshop all about this kind of thing in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Saturday 4th February. See here for details and booking.

(Rider Waite Tarot Cards Copyright US Games Systems)

How to have a Big Heart. And be less emotional at the same time.

xviiI have often written about the four-fold nature of life, and about how this exists both literally and symbolically. Well, one of the most significant aspects of human life is our heart, which you may know from basic biology, possesses four chambers. It is this four-ness we want to connect with.

See yourself – your entire being – as one big graphic equalizer, with four adjustable sliders, one for each of the four channels. The four channels are marked Actions, Intentions, Thoughts and Feelings.

The first thing to grasp is that in order to have the maximum experience of life – to hear the fullest possible range of sounds – one must work with all four sliders. It is not enough to push one of the sliders up to the max and to neglect the other three. In other words, a life full of action, but devoid of thought, feeling or intention, is no life at all.

The dangers of overbalancing on any one of the four are great, not helped by the fact that we each have a preference, a default position which we keep getting drawn back to. This is natural, and part of our individual uniqueness. Yet at the same time it must be recognised that to be naturally predisposed toward action at the expense of thought is to be unbalanced. To be all about intentions but never actions is to be un-balanced. To live in the world of thought and never in the world of feeling is to be unbalanced. And yes, to live in, default to, prefer and seek a world of feelings – at the expense of any of the other three – is to be unbalanced. And that is where most of us are – unbalanced within the world of feelings and emotions. Which leads, in the end, to the necessary realisation that feelings must be controlled.

But the control of feelings should not be taken to suggest, in any way at all, a retreat from life, or love. Control of our emotions does not breed fear, isolation or brutality. In fact, quite the opposite, for it is emotions and feelings, when uncontrolled, which destroy everything in their path. Emotions – unchecked – are also often (though not always) unreliable, changing like the weather. Decisions made from a place of emotion invariably prove themselves to be bad decisions, later on.

Of course, language gets in the way of our understanding this, because one person’s feelings are another person’s gut. I remember watching The Voice on BBC TV once where Will.I.Am said that he was ‘voting from his heart’, only for them to cut back to the presenter, Holly Willoughby, who responded by saying that she ‘loved how he voted from his gut’.

The point though is that whatever our feelings might be, about anything or anyone, they must be balanced by our thoughts, checked against our intentions and tested by our actions. Of course, we are free to not do this, to move only the lever of emotion. But to do so is to step into a smaller world, not a larger one.

So, for those who wish to take control of their emotions – which will always reveal the full depth of their expression – here are two power methods:

First: The Daily Practice.

All progress is a result of getting just that little bit ahead of the curve. Success – in any field, rarely comes from being reactive. So, begin each day with the Four-fold Breath.

Sit, quietly, without external stimulation. Maybe let the mind run its stories out or down for a few minutes.

Breath in for a steady count of four. Make these ‘belly-breaths’ where the stomach, not the chest, expands.

Hold that breath for a steady count of four.

Exhale that breath for a further count of four.

Be empty of breath for the last count of four.

Then repeat, up to four times. In. Hold. Out. Empty.

Do this normally and naturally. Do not exert yourself or strain in any way. Simply step through the 4 x 4 breaths in turn.  Do this every morning (all practices must be practiced) to establish your foundational level of control.

Second: An ‘In the Moment’ Practice

Try to spot your stress triggers, to become, over time, more aware of what spins you out. The first stage of success will be when you realise you’ve been triggered only once it’s too late! But from that point of understanding it is simply a matter of practice, so don’t be discouraged.

Catching yourself, at the precise moment where stress is ready to explode, take one large deep breath. Then, as you breathe out also push down on your diaphragm and tell yourself to calm yourself. Issue this instruction to yourself very clearly and very firmly. It is an order not a request, a command not a wish. Always take this attitude, that you are in control of your body, and that in this moment you are giving the orders. Practice breeds mastery.

These two techniques, and the general approach I have laid down here, will put you back in the driving seat of your life, and give you greater control over your reactions to the wild events of the world. You might even discover that your capacity to love, serve, get busy and make progress is wildly increased.

 

Caffeinated Cards

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Work requires energy, something which many people lack. So, it may help to consider ‘energy’ as four-dimensional. To do this look at the Four Aces of any Tarot deck.

Begin by imagining that each Ace represents a concentrated essence. Pretend that all the other cards of that suit have been distilled down into the Ace, so you have all the Pentacles-ness living in the Ace of Pentacles, all of the Sword-ness living in the Ace of Swords, and so on. You have thus created a ‘shot’ of each suit.

Then see that each Ace directly connects to one of the Elements. There are many ways to make these correspondences, but for starters we might say: Ace of Pentacles – Earth. Ace of Cups – Water. Ace of Swords – Air. Ace of Wands – Fire

But what do these Elements mean? What are they and what do they do? Well, fundamentally each element simply exists to cause change. Earth (Pentacles) is of and in all things of a fixed structure and a weight. Traditionally this includes property and money, but it’s also about the shape, size and form of our physical body. Now, this shape and form can be anything its owner likes (the Tarot is not body dysmorphic) for full connection with the Ace of Pentacles simply requires us to be present, to know what our body is doing, where it is at and what it is telling us. Easy, we may say, but hold on. To be successful we must happy in our skin, and present in our world. Suddenly this may not be so easy, but gentle meditation with the Ace of Pentacles along these lines will provide insights. Yes, the Ace of Pentacles can help our body-image, and this will always contribute to our success.

Water (Cups) speaks to all things which flow, whether it be tears, love, blood or sweat. Always connected with emotions this Ace tells us that we cannot be successful without love, whether it be love of self, love for those we work with and for, and/or love of what we are doing. And if we can’t summon love we might try to summon affection, tolerance or acceptance. Whichever way we approach it success will never eventuate to those who are ‘not feeling it’.

Air (Swords) addresses the mind, as well as the atmosphere in which our thoughts operate, together with the conversations (both internal and external) which we have. No-one has ever been successful by telling themselves a story of defeat or woe. To connect with this card, we must read uplifting and truthful words, maybe to the extent where we would avoid the news entirely! Yet we must also be cautious, for wholeness and completion requires all Four Aces, and to merely surround oneself with happy thoughts of Air, without also bringing the stability of Earth and the feelings of Water, is to risk having all our good work undermined by the next crisis.

Lastly everyone needs Fire (Wands). This is the hardest Ace to connect with because it’s energy will only occasionally come to us. We must instead, by force of will, go to it. Superficially this demands passion, vigour, movement and intensity, but more profoundly it simply requires action. Yes, under the aegis of the Ace of Wands we must do something.  Here the sensitive might resist, saying that action is pointless if we don’t know what to do. But the lesson of the Ace of Wands is that action unsticks things. By the very act of movement – by doing something – we clear stagnant energy and free ourselves for success. This may be followed by more and different action later on, but eventually – if we seek success – all of our body (Ace of Pentacles), our feelings (Ace of Cups) and our thoughts (Ace of Swords) must be transformed into Action (Ace of Wands). For without this four-fold movement, success – of whatever kind we seek – will forever remain just beyond our reach.

++ This is an adapted extract of just one part of my Tarot for Business Success workshop. Attendees got the full strength, double shot version with extra flavour and plenty on the side. To be notified about future workshops please sign up to the newsletter ++

Images from The Frideborg Tarot

Money is NOT the root of all Evil.

On more than one occasion I have known spiritual personalities proclaim their ‘freedom from earthly concerns’ only to launch, seamlessly and without irony, into haggling for a higher fee, or to swerve their share of the bill. Similarly, I have known many small business people simultaneously hand over pounds, dollars and euros for a new handbag (car, phone or laptop) while knowing they could not afford this month’s wages or bills.
These attitudes are commonplace, but why?
Is it basic financial illiteracy or is something more fundamental going on in people’s relationship with money?

In the realm of the Classical Elements you have Fire, Water, Air and Earth, essentially representing all things moving (Fire), all things contracting (Water), all things expanding (Air) and all things settled and still (Earth). These Elements are then four (plus the fifth, Akasha, which binds them all together), yet some say there are in fact but two Elements – the opposing forces of Fire and Water – with Air as a separating medium and Earth not as an Element but simply a place where everything lands, a repository, a receptacle of everything else. We see this end result in the Tarot, where the element Earth is represented by Pentacles or Coins.

Money, therefore, is where all our efforts wind up. Money is part and parcel of the material plane where existence takes form. Money is the end, not the start; the flower and the fruit, not the seed or the root. Money is what arrives after we have expended blood, sweat and tears, after we have been enthused and demoralised, after we have invented, destroyed, rebuilt and restored, after we have tried and failed – and tried and failed again. And if it does not arrive after all these things then that may be nothing to do with WHAT we are trying to do, and everything to do with WHERE AND WHEN we are trying to do it.
This is not just a business observation, but an aspect of what we might call Cosmic Law. We will explore how this works in future posts…

The Three Dangers

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(Above, from L to R: Imagination, Speculation & Fear. Rider Waite Tarot, copyright US Games Systems)

A great deal of daily life is manufactured from the materials of Imagination, Speculation and Fear. Whether products of our own minds, or originating from others, almost every aspect of our common existence turns under these three influences.

When we ask ‘Will this project be successful?’ or ‘Will I be able to get everything done in time?’ we are one millimetre away from answers full of wild imaginings, ungrounded speculations, all infused with a morbid dread of failure.

No-one is immune from this. Even if we reframe our questions more constructively – ‘How can I best ensure the success of this project?’ or ‘What is the fastest way to get everything done?’ – we are still prey to the Three Dangers, because, in truth, the answer to these questions is ‘I don’t know’.

The dawning of this realisation – that in most cases we simply do not know the answer – brings many people up short, generating a sense of deep discomfort. To resolve this, they search for a rescue. Yet in doing so they often fall deeper into the rabbit hole of Imagination, Speculation and Fear.

It is sometimes hard to see that so very much of life is influenced by these Three Dangers. Yet by looking around we can see that almost everywhere there are people absorbed by things that simply do not matter, obsessed and overtaken by the noise of things they do not know and driven into the ground, day in day out, by a series of debilitating fears.

‘What is the truth?’ asks the Seven of Cups, simultaneously offering us a million and one distracting choices.

‘What happens next?’ asks the Wheel of Fortune. ‘Change’, she says answering her own question. ‘Change that you don’t like as well as change that you do.’ We respond by futile attempts to maximise joy and minimise pain.

‘And do you dare?’ asks The Devil knowing full well that most of us don’t.

Though it may be well argued that there are far worse cards than these, the reality is that the Seven of Cups, the Wheel of Fortune and the Devil form a toxic combination which leads us into a mire of claim and counter claim, assertion, belief and shadow boxing. Under the rulership of Imagination, Speculation and Fear our movements are always reactive and never directed. These cards immerse us fully in the trivial aspects of the Game of Life, while at the same time preventing us from ever advancing along the board.

The toxicity of these three cards is so concentrated because each of them, in their own way, disconnect us from ourselves, nudging us further into the land of attachments to stuff, outcomes and ultimately our own cherished self-image. This disconnection from reality, the matrix of these three cards, is where many of us live, much of the time. When so much of every day is absorbed by ‘Who’s up, Who’s down?’ (Wheel of Fortune), ‘What do I fancy?’ (Seven of Cups) and ‘How can I be safe?’ (The Devil) it is small wonder that we get so little done. It may even be true that we should resign to the fact that ‘such is life’, and that so long as we are human it can be no other way. Yet any success we might accrue within this tangled forest occurs almost by accident. And if we don’t really know how it occurred then we probably won’t know how to hold onto it.

So, if success is truly your goal then look closely at where Imagination, Speculation and Fear have taken root in your life. The answers may not be immediately obvious, but when you find them make sure to prune them back, hard.

Things Go Wrong More Often Than They Go Right

ace-of-wandsSpiritually minded people say that, regardless of what happens, ‘it is all good’. And this is true. Up to a point. BUT this mindset can lead, over time, to a kind of passive defeatism, where life steadily empties and flattens out, yet because ‘it’s all good’ we think this state must be somehow ‘cosmically right’, even though it feels increasingly wrong.

This is where WILLPOWER should step in. The flow which so many people seek to attune to is only really part of the story. After all, if humans really wanted to follow bliss and flow we probably would not have ever left the caves. We had to WILL ourselves to do so, as millions every day WILL themselves out of bed, WILL themselves onto overcrowded buses and WILL themselves onto the log jammed roads, in order to WILL themselves to stay at their desks or workstations.

The point here is that if we are going to go forward then there will always be difficulty, sometimes intensely so. Certainly the most productive parts of my life have contained the greatest obstacles. That’s because the presence, absence, size or frequency of obstacles is not always anything to do with the task in hand.
The real issue is what is our response to obstacles?
Can we respond well when bad things happen?
Well, we can try.

But perhaps more importantly, can we respond well when good things happen? That, in my experience, is much, much harder. Observe the manner in which a man or woman celebrates success and you will very clearly begin to see into their soul. In that moment of peak success you will see the seeds of their coming failure.

Of course, all this is easy enough to see in others, but can we see it in ourselves?

(Ace of Wands form the RIder-Waite Tarot, copyright US Games Systems)

Learning to Love Limitation

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There is not one single aspect of the human experience which is limitless. (I don’t include LOVE in this, because I see that as something bigger than humanity).
Rather than limitation being depressing and narrow it is actually – if we take a moment with it – enormously empowering and liberating.
Everytime we accept the clear reality that we cannot do ‘A’, we free up energy in order to do ‘B’ properly.
When we recognise that we cannot have ‘that’ we are free to engage more fully with ‘this’.
This principle of LIMITATION is closely allied to CONCENTRATION, FOCUS & INTENSITY, which all occur when we give a commitment to the moment, to the thing or person at hand. This is the foundation for all forms of SUCCESS.
It is interesting that many people refuse to commit fully to their projects or dreams for fear of failure, but the reality is that it is the dilution and scattering of their energy (which comes from being uncommitted) that often causes the failure they so dread.
Option A or Option B?
Do it or don’t do it?
Jump or stay?
The need to choose, act and commit is what sets up a win, and obsessions about always taking the ‘right’ course of action are debilitating and paralysing, which is of course exactly how the Ego wants it.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I was ever given came from the least conscious, spiritual or enlightened person I have ever met. Yet for all his limitations he was right when he said ‘JFDI’ – JUST FXXXING DO IT!

(Image Courtesy The Frideborg Tarot)

Build a Better Relationship with Social Media

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Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Tsu. Any more information streams to be checked and updated?
Think about all this through the prism of three Tarot cards – Temperance, The Devil and The Tower.
These could be three levels of involvement, or perhaps as it sometimes feels, three circles of despair. Maybe these three Major cards signify the extent to which social media can seem like something that is out of our control and beyond our full understanding.

Optimum social media use occurs through Temperance. Here we use it a little, but not a lot, and we certainly don’t live on it. We use our head (see the halo around the head of the figure in the picture) and come at it with a positive heart (triangle of Fire on the breast of the same figure). The Sun is shining in the background of the card which might serve both as a reminder that there is a whole world off-screen, and as an indicator to always keep things positive. Further, the interchange of water between the two cups shows the best aspect of social media – give and take. But the presence at the feet of a body of Water cannot be dismissed – social media is a sphere of emotion not reason, its deep currents ready to sweep away the unwary without warning. Best to dip our toe in, while remaining above it all.

Descent into Hell via Social Media is indicated by the presence of the next card, The Devil. Here the users of social media are chained to their screens, seemingly unable to escape, yet also unable to really enjoy. Everything around them is dark, everything they read is horrific, everybody they friended has become a monster. They are free to log off at any time except they don’t, continuing to project, negate, bitch and troll. Social Media Hell has them, and they cannot escape.

The final collapse comes shortly afterwards, and is depicted for us in the Tower. Suddenly comes the realisation that it’s all gone Pete Tong. Someone said something that we didn’t like, we replied instantly, without thought or self-check and the whole internet descends upon us. Whether we call it being shamed, outed, or schooled, it represents the absolute destruction of the shallow sense of identity that is often constructed in Social Media Land. The only solution now is to log-off and re-think.

Now get your Tarot out. Select these three cards from your deck and interrogate yourself honestly and sincerely as to where in this three-step process you are, where you have been, and where you might yet find yourself. How can you keep your sanity intact while continuing to enjoy the benefits of social media? Ask that question and draw one more card. Use it to keep social media as your functional servant, rather than your controlling master.
(Tarot images L-R: Rider Waite Smith, Cosmic, 1JJ Swiss).