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Autumn Road

The 5 Minute Leader

  • Writer's pictureCarl Blanz

Personal Mastery: Practice

Don’t make eye contact, don’t look…….. aghhhh, why did I look up, here he comes.

This was me 30 years ago in the Denver airport. I was either on my way to see my mom in Portland or, on a layover when I saw a Hare Krishna walking through the airport talking to people and selling books.

He caught my eye, and being a good Minnesotan, I couldn’t be rude. “I’d like you to have this” he handed me a book, “no cost”. I was curious and he seemed really kind, when it was all over, I had “donated” $10.00

The book was called “Being No-one, Going Nowhere”. Now I had something to do on the way to Portland.

I remember loving the book, I think I’ve read it 3 or 4 times now. By the time I got to Portland, I had decided I was going to be a Buddhist! I started meditating on that trip, in my mom’s kitchen 30 years ago, and I still meditate today. I do not claim to be a Buddhist, I think the Buddha would advise me not to “Be” anyone, including his devotee.

It’s said that with 10,000 hours, you can claim mastery of anything. Let’s see, 365 X 30 years is 10,950 days. At an hour a day (give or take a few hundred) meditating for that long, I should have mastered meditation.

Over the years, I’ve added breathing and yoga. My meditation and breathing today was as always really great. However, I don’t have the same flexibility as the last time I did it because it’s been three or four days since my last “Practice”. This morning, once again, I am a beginner.

I don’t know why I would put off something so good for me, something that makes me feel whole, in exchange for the morning news, which can make me feel less than whole. Watching the news is a habit that challenges my notion of self discipline.

I can be pretty tough on myself for falling out of my practice, if I’m not attentive to them, my thoughts tend to settle in a loop about laziness and a lack of self discipline. “At this rate, I’ll never be enlightened”.

Begin Again

Another thing I’ve added to the practice is the concept of Beginning Again. Beginning again is now an essential part of my meditation practice. Since learning this concept, I have had permission (given by me) to fall off the regimen and get back on.

If I am a failure when I fall off, then beginning again feels like a penance. If I see beginning again as a normal and regular part of the practice, then I’m free to consider how a shift like this in my thinking actually is a small bit of enlightenment!

A little more math… 30 years = 360 months. I estimate that I begin again three times per month on the average, so following this estimate, I’ve begun again with my meditation practice about 1080 times. I’ve also spent 1,000’s of hours meditating, breathing and stretching, and I’m grateful for that. I’m getting close to outliving all the men on both sides of my family and because of this practice, I generally feel peaceful, healthy, and available to create a space for others in coaching.

One of the concepts of Personal Mastery is “Practice” George Leonard does a great job of explaining how he sees practice and because of him, my practice is a lot better. If you are interested in how he see’s practice, check out his book Mastery Key Success Long Term Fulfillment.

To lead effectively means to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually available to those you lead. In order to consistently show up for others, clearing yourself of your own attachments and judgements regularly is absolutely essential, in fact in our firm, we think it is possibly the most important thing a leader can do.

So, I’m inviting you to claim a practice, maybe it’s something you already do, like run, or yoga or meditation. Whatever it is, this practice should be your time for your own self reflection. If you don’t have a practice and would like to start one, I suggest you start with breathing, try one of these and see if you can make it a habit.

If I can help you with creating a new habit, or any other part of your practice, please connect with me. Also, your comments here can be a help to other readers, so please share your perspective here too.

Carl Blanz

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