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Receiving Your Own Gifts

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Imagine taking your greatest interpersonal gifts—those talents and attributes that most positively affect the lives of others—and putting them in a special box through which they could be instantly acquired by anyone who received them. Which gifts would you put in the box? Would they have to do with the way you support people, or some area of expertise that you've developed, or an attribute such as honesty or loyalty? How might the world be affected if more people acquired your particular gifts and used them to serve others?

Now take a moment to think about the ways in which you could be better served or supported by the people in your life. In your ideal scenario, what might those close to you offer or provide for you with greater effectiveness, or how might they differently treat or acknowledge you?

You may find that some of the gifts you wish to receive in greater measure from others are gifts that you offer rather easily. You might even have placed one of these gifts in that special box. This should come as no surprise, as we have a tendency to become masters at giving to others those things we most wish to receive.

Consider now the possibility of opening your own gift box and receiving the very gifts that you enjoy sharing with others.

I recently found myself having this very experience. For a couple years now I've been leading a kind of intentional learning community. I created an environment in which people from diverse backgrounds could come together to connect in a deep and authentic way, all the while supporting one another's learning and growth. Each month we explored a different chapter from my two User's Guide books—The Art and Science of Self and The Art and Science of Connection. These are among the gifts that I most enjoy sharing with others.

This month, the members of my facilitator training ensemble decided to teach their first User's Guide module to a new generation of participants. I am one of the new participants, which is to say that I now have the privilege of being supported by these facilitators in the same way that I had worked to support them. I am directly receiving one of those gifts that I most enjoy giving.

In this wonderful experience, I have learned a valuable lesson: don't be too proud or shy to ask for and receive the very gifts that you relish in sharing with others.

Taking the Stage at BookExpo America

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This week at BookExpo America in New York City, The User's Guide to Being Human is being honored with two awards that herald its release: The 2012 International Book Award for "Best New Self-Help Book," and The 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards "Motivational Book of the Year."

Monty Hall, game show host of Let's Make a Deal once said, "I'm an overnight success, but it took twenty years." This week, watching my book take the stage in New York City, I identify with Monty's sentiment. While The User's Guide appears to be in its dawn from a publication perspective, it is in the high noon of my life, the culmination of over twenty years of research, heart and soul. I am very excited to see where our afternoon will take us.

My mission has been to inspire the personal growth, motivation, and interconnectedness of people around the world. I truly appreciate the confirmation of this mission by independent sources.

Many thanks to the award committees, my publisher SelectBooks, my agent Bill Gladstone, and all the people who have supported me throughout this exciting adventure.

My deepest appreciation is reserved for those readers who may one day find personal value in the gift that I've worked with great care to create and share.

It is with these thoughts that I make my way into the afternoon...

The Art of Actualization (The Stone Series, Part IX)

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"Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives." — ANTHONY ROBINS, author and motivational speaker (1960-Present)

Have you ever had a great idea, yet found it difficult to birth it into the world? Do you ever wonder what it takes to make a dream come true?

Human beings have an extraordinary capacity to imagine possibilities and then turn those possibilities into realities. Evident in the gifts of civilization — in our arts, languages, sciences, technologies, businesses, governments, and so on — it is clear that we are a profoundly creative species.

How might your life be improved if you were to fully develop your creative capacities? What’s the first thing that you would set out to create for yourself, or for others, if you knew you had the power to do so?

Actualization is the art of making things happen. It enables us to see our hopes, dreams and ambitions through to fruition, giving them actual form in our everyday lives. It requires three basic ingredients:

  1. Conception — developing an intention that is vital, clear and focused.
  2. Willpower — gathering the energy to nurture and support this intention.
  3. Resource — forming integral partnerships with the people and things around you to support the birth and maturity of your intention, contextualizing it in a greater wave of similar, collective intentions.

The User's Guide to Being Human: The Art and Science of Self was written to support people in accessing the many capacities with which they were born, and to help them apply those capacities in order to actualize the lives they dream of leading.

Learn more about The User's Guide

 

The Right To an Empowering Education (The Stone Series, Part VIII)

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Black Elk, Sioux medicine man (1863-1950), once said, "Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss."

Why do many children now require medication as daily part of their education? Why do an alarming number of youths drop out of high school? Why do an increasing number of parents find that their five year-olds resist going to Kindergarten? Why do our kids tend to have significantly more homework than we had when we were their age, and thus less time to develop their own passions and personal talents? If compulsory education laws were established to support the rights of young learners, what do these unfortunate trends suggest about our success in fulfilling that mandate?

We are living in an age when more is known about child development than ever before. Yet if many of us were turned into children again and required to relive our schooling under the modern system, we would find that our education is now driven more by standardized programming and testing, and less by methods that support the developmental processes through which children naturally learn.

You parents and educators out there: do you believe that our modern educational test results speak to the true capacity of each child's intrinsic human gifts? Would you agree that the development of mind and intelligence is less important than the passing geometry? Do you feel that the ability to solve problems is less important than the memorization of facts and achievement of high test scores? Are creativity and imagination less relevant in our age, deserving of the chopping block where modern schooling has placed them?

If you so, please let me send you a free copy of my book. You must agree in turn, however, to read it from cover to cover.

If not, and you wish to learn more about the extraordinary nature of the young human beings in your life, consider buying my book and reading it from cover to cover. Its purpose is to put people back in touch with the natural human gifts that modern school has lost sight of.

Riding the Tides of Life (The Stone Series, Part VII)

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As a boy, I spent hours on end during the summer days body surfing and boogie boarding along the Southern California coast. No two waves were ever the same. What might I make of each one that came my way? What kind of style could I bring to the natural power that made itself temporarily available to me? What could I learn from a total wipe-out?

These were all important lessons that carried over into other important aspects of my life. How fortunate was I to have the time and opportunity to experience them? They conditioned me to view situations with the eyes of a surfer—looking to make the most of the possibilities at hand, to ride them with grace and joy.

Years later, when called to resolve conflicts among groups, I found myself naturally searching for the crest of a wave out there in the collective concerns that had arisen. Once in sight, I could help each one of us ride that wave through some kind of personal discovery back to a shoreline of resolution.

Every day of our lives we face situations that provide us with opportunities to carry ourselves forward with grace and joy. When we approach these situations like surfers—with an eye toward where the waves of possibility might serve to carry us—we learn to finesse each situation to an advantage. We skim across the surface of the deeper forces that drive us, or the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We approach them with an adventurous and playful spirit, artfully riding them rather than letting them crash upon us.

Here's to the tides of life at play during our brief time here on the shoreline of possibility! Cowabunga!

The Barefoot Warrior (The Stone Series, Part VI)

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I believe I might have developed a new publishing genre: the fictional autobiography written under the pen name of its protagonist. Through my own experience of writing such a book, I've found that it can be a very empowering process whether you intend to publish or not.

I wrote my first draft of The Barefoot Warrior as a young adult, then published it decades later under the pen name Kyle Weaver. It is a coming of age novel about a teenager who runs away from foster care and standardized education to take charge of his own life and well-being. Through his various adventures and mishaps, he comes to take a barefoot stand in his own truth.

At the time of writing the book, I was unaware that I myself had been a foster child in early youth. How interesting—that of all the protagonists whose stories I could wish to tell, I chose one lurking deep inside of me who yearned to be seen and acknowledged.

Though much of the book is based on actual and interior experiences that were later significantly fictionalized for purposes of artistic license, I did not recognize the power of the written page to reveal my inner self to myself while I was writing the book. I did not recognize the power of fiction to retell your own story in a more empowering, bigger picture context.

I stumbled upon it a few months ago while preparing for the launch of my second book, The User's Guide to Being Human: The Art and Science of Self, and was stunned by the extent to which it had altered the course of my life for the better. In the two decades that the manuscript lay largely dormant, I had managed to pursue the mission of my fictional, autobiographical self. I had taken giant leaps toward actualizing him.

It is no wonder that many of my closest peeps now call me by the name Ky. As others read the book, many of them too begin to call me by the name that has served to reveal my deeper essence.

—Ky, Barefoot Warrior, at your service

The Fraud

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At various point along my path I find myself feeling like a fraud. These moments usually come when serving in positions of leadership, or as a teacher, mentor, parent, or expert of some kind. I see people counting on me for something that I haven't yet fully developed. I give one hundred percent of myself to fulfilling the expectation, try to keep smiling, but deep inside—usually beyond the bounds of my own conscious awareness—I feel like a little kid in big shoes that I have not yet learned to manage.

As I find myself placed in positions of greater authority, I come to realize that I am not alone in these feelings. I suspect that every president, queen, and king has felt this at times; every heroine and hero; every corporate executive and celebrity; every teacher and coach; every mom and dad. To evolve, we must sometimes step into situations that we are not yet fully capable of fulfilling. When we keep those new shoes on for long enough, however, we find our feet growing to meet that new capacity.

Here's to the fraud in each of us—that he or she may persist long enough to become the real deal!

A Change of Wardrobe

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Have you ever noticed that many of us have a tendency to spend a fair bit of time in clothes that other people designed? Some of these clothes we wear on our bodies. Some may include slogans—on tee shirts for example. Some we wear as attitudes and beliefs. Some we wear as agreed upon possibilities (or the lack thereof) for our potential and our lives' fulfillment.

It goes without saying that other people's designs can be wonderful gifts. Democracy serves as one such example. But some of the designs that we wear do not seem to serve us quite as well. They might be out of fashion. They might be overly binding to the unique spirit that each one of us would otherwise unfold in the world.

What is the impact of unconsciously wearing other people's designs as we carry ourselves through our days? What if we got just a little bit more conscious about our own designs for our possibilities, or for how we wish to reveal ourselves to those who cross our paths?

The Power of Shared Story

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This winter I had the opportunity to participate in a community development conference in Colquitt, Georgia. Joy Jinks and the people of Colquitt are revitalizing their town and economy through the arts. How are they doing this?

Dr. Richard Owen Geer facilitated a Community Performance workshop at the conference during which a group of participants—most of whom had never met before—shared life stories with one another. Dr. Geer opened the workshop by saying, "through the process of sharing our stories we each step halfway out of ourselves, that much deeper into our relationships." By the end of the day, we participants found ourselves writing, directing and performing a theater piece that combined our shared stories in a greater work that harvested the ups and downs of our personal histories to elevate and inspire an audience.

At the start of the day, I would never have guessed that I would later have the opportunity to act in vignettes that retold transformational moments in other people's lives, to see my own stories retold, or to sing in support of new friends with whom I'd become deeply connected. This work is part of what is helping the people of Colquitt to build a brighter future together. To learn more about their work and The Colquitt/Miller Arts Council, click here.

Peggy Rubin, author of Sacred Theater, opened the conference with a provocative keynote address during which asked us to consider our lives as the stage on which our deepest intents and passions continually unfold. She then begged the question, "what is it you plan to do with your wild and precious life?" Her suggestion: "play it with wonder, delight, devotion and joy, as if it is a work of sacred theater."

What might happen if estranged members of our communities came together to hear of one anothers' ups and downs? What if we found that we are not all that different in our dreams and strivings? What if there is a way to form a conscious ensemble with those around us, to share and care just a little bit more with the people who deliver our food or doctor our wounds? How might our sense of connectedness be transformed?

Thank you Richard, Peggy, Joy and the people of Colquitt for the roles that you have played on the stage of my life.

To learn more about Dr. Geer, founder of Community Performance International, click here.

To learn more about Ms. Rubin, founder of the Center for Sacred Theater, click here.

Together they will be cofacilitating a conference with Dr. Jean Houston this August in Ashland Oregon during the Shakespeare festival there. Learn more about Servants of the Possible: The Arts and Powers of Social Artistry.

 

Presence Of Mind (The Stone Series, Part V)

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I was tromping about through Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Monument when I stumbled upon this ancient stone one who seemed to be gazing out at the vast expanse before us both. I heard the words of Confucius in my head. "No matter where you go, there you are."

I was reminded of the magnificence that each moment in life provides, if only we choose to open our eyes to it. Such a reverence could very well be the key to making the most of any and every situation.

When I was a young adult, two buddies and I came upon a group of guys who had been spray-painting various phallic images here and there nearby. Some twenty minutes later, my buddies and I were splayed out on the ground, mangled and bloody. I had been knocked unconscious, and had a face wound that would later require two layers of stitches to bring the skin back together.

As the guys ran off, the youngest among them hesitated. He stood over me, saying, "get up, man. Get up!" I wasn't sure if this was because he wanted to knock me down again, or because he wanted to see that I would be okay.

Some folks nearby found us and helped us make our way to the hospital emergency room. A team doctors, nurses and various staff members worked with great coordination to attend to our recovery. They were collaborating with the extraordinary capacity that our human bodies had for healing. There were supporting this particular moment along the greater unfolding of our lives.

Years later, sitting beside the ancient stone one in Joshua tree gazing out at the majestic lay of the land, I thought back to the kid who had stood over me asking me to get up. If only I'd had the courage and presence of mind to gaze back at him with reverence. What if in that moment, regardless of the circumstances that brought us together, I had allowed myself to see and honor him as a magnificent being in a magnificent world, much the way my experience with the doctors and nurses had felt? What if I had consciously considered the humanity that his life was unfolding through his various ups and downs? For starters, I would have found myself seated in appreciation and wonder, rather than fear and confusion.

I offer this image and these thoughts with appreciation for you, fellow traveler, who has taken the time to visit my blog. I honor the humanness that you uniquely unfold as you carry on along your path.