Who Wants To Spoon? Leadership In The Face Of The Impossible

bent spoon Who Wants To Spoon? Leadership In The Face Of The Impossible
“Do not try to bend the spoon; that’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon. Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”The Matrix

The Gift Of Irrationality
I can’t help myself. I love the Matrix. The quote talks about not trying to do the impossible and instead realizing the truth about who you are already – and that this is probably enough!

Most of us are not rational decision makers. We have a unique ability to ignore objective feedback. Thats why more information is never the best tactic for persuasion. On the face of it, this seems to be detrimental to growth. Used in the right way, this quality is actually a gift. In the first instance, it can protect us from fighting the wrong fight. We can avoid obsession with the impossible. Those who get stuck in this place know what they don’t want and are able to clearly articulate all the things they don’t want. Until you can have this same clarity with the things that you do want, you will never truly be awake.

Secondly, it is easy to be easy hijacked by “rational arguments” so that we do not take bold action in pursuit of the good. These arguments come from the rarefied air of expert analysts and enter our subconscious as the obvious. The path gets drawn for us by people who may not have our best interests at heart and their map becomes our territory.

We gain protection when we learn not to mistake knowledge for wisdom – when we understand that it is love and not knowledge that is the essential precursor to true wisdom.

Reclaiming Dominion
We were given dominion over earthly things by God. We screwed that up along the way. I believe that we have to reclaim dominion of our own special place. No one can tell you where/what this is. This place may be our community, our family, our job or it may exist completely inside of us. If we don’t reclaim dominion then we don’t really exist. The only other choice is to assume the role of victim. Once we reclaim our dominion we can then begin to work for the common good.

Finally, a confession…

I don’t know if any of the foregoing is true. I like what the controversial priest Richard Rohr says about the truth expressed in John 14:6 (“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”): “If Jesus is the Truth, then you probably aren’t.”

If you want to learn how to bend, go to the Services section of Boomer Ronin and find out how to hire us!

P.S. -Tweet this post! Thank you.

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I Am Part Of A Conspiracy

conspiracy I Am Part Of A ConspiracyI have decided to join a conspiracy and I am writing to ask some of you to join me. This is also a brief explanation of the work our small, new company is doing. We felt the explanation was important because of how many spaces we are involved in.

Market Niche? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Market Niche!
Hans Hageman & Associates has jumped into a few areas. We have a few websites, one podcast, and at least one more on the way. These are vehicles to examine seemingly disparate areas of life – health & fitness, dating & relationships, leadership, diversity, and small business development. We are responding to our observations, life experiences, and dozens of conversations with people engaged in moving through a new world. We are also discovering that there are natural connections amongst all these areas. We also happen to believe that we can do well by doing some good in all of these areas.

The Bystander Effect
It’s sometimes really tempting to be a bystander. Isn’t that the easiest way to avoid all the pain out there? Other people/the government/people with more means are the ones who can/should handle things. But then reality leaps at you. For me, it was listening to two friends around my age detail all their serious health problems. It was finding out that students at the high school I had founded had received the news (after being told a different story for months) that their school was being closed and that those who were not graduating were going to be thrown back into the shark tank. It was seeing the movie, “Race To Nowhere” and having my knowledge confirmed of the deadly pressure faced by upper middle class high school students. This pressure is combined with the lessons for success that these children learn – rote memorization, cheating, and a weakening of family ties in favor of test performance and ticket punching extra-curricular activities. It was reading about the lies being told to law students so that their law schools can continue the habits of greed shared by the parasites of the financial industry (http://nyti.ms/fVe2Z4).

What Next?
What can anyone do? I don’t know but what Bernadette, Yaromil, Francis and I have decided to do is to find ways to help others alleviate and prevent their suffering. In doing so, we hope to alleviate and prevent our own. We live in a world where “pain is mandatory” but our struggle is to prove that suffering can be made optional. My team and I have redefined our own definitions of “ambition.”. We intend to remain on guard against the hubris that has the “experts” believe that they have “figured it out.” We do not suffer from what Wallace Stevens called “a blessed rage for order.” Life is messy and disordered and there a few scaleable solutions. We know that we will have more success helping people achieve balance than moral perfection

We bring who we are to our personal and work relationships. We can try to create alternate personas (as so many are forced to do) but things leak through – either our enlightened sides or our shadow selves. It is important to be able to look into that pool of water and shout with pride and pleasure at the reflection, “This really is me!”

Our merry band works with people who need to examine the structure that has been created for their lives. I believe that we each have a true Self and that conditioning has prevented us from living as that true Self. Intelligence, accomplishment, material possessions all provide camouflage as we seek to escape what we should be living.

Join The Conspiracy
Oh, and that conspiracy…

I will continue to join with others who are not only part of the Long Defeat but who are also part of the conspiracy to uncover the perfection that exists in each of us as a gift from God.

So come visit us here on http://HansHageman.com or at http://yaromil.foursquare.com, http://BoomerRonin.com, or http://BrownstoneFitness.com

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How To Grow Gently Through Good Habits

growing to the sky How To Grow Gently Through Good Habits
The Challenges Ahead
My process for determining the voice for this blog is ongoing. I feel like that mosquito in the nudist colony – I know what to do; I’m just not sure where to start. In the past several days, news stories and studies (see Pew Trust) have come out about the clouds of regret and depression that hover over my fellow Baby Boomers. When we nervously look for renewal and hope from those younger than us, we are confronted by films like Race to Nowhere and news that students in college are suffering from mental health issues in shocking numbers.

The Talk
When I write here, I have tried to put past bitterness to the side and share lessons learned, in the hope that they may be of value to someone. I’ve done some things and been some places that might help provide some people perspective on their travels. The need for this perspective was brought home to me during a conversation with a young man worried about where the world is headed. He said…

“I’m worried about taking on the challenges of the 21st century.” This very general concern might annoy me in other contexts, however…

since this was my 9 year-old son, I put on my best listening skills as he continued…

“When you and Mommy are dead, I’m not sure how I’m going to know what to do about those challenges” (Ask someone who knows him. They’ll tell you it sounds like him). I didn’t have a lot of great advice at that moment but I was able to refrain from a lecture about Bentham’s Utilitarianism versus Pareto efficency and we instead discussed some of the qualities that I thought he needed to cultivate. We talked about things like courage, friendship, service, freedom, and responsibility.

I’m glad that he’s in a wonderful school that has allowed him to develop his natural gifts. It’s one of those places that understands that knowing the name of something doesn’t equal knowledge. Unfortunately,it only runs through 8th grade – well, there’s always homeschooling!

The Curriculum
My goal and desire for him is that he continues with his fascination for the natural world, continues to develop his physical skills to navigate through it, develops the physical and moral courage to confront the bullies who will inevitably invade his journey if he’s ding it the right way, learn sales (after all, so much of the life we live is transactional), and follows the “Heinlein curriculum” – “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

I want him to grow strong and I also want him to grow gently. I also want him to develop the practice of seeking and practicing good habits. Whether you’re 9 or 79, developing the right habits can help you grow into who you are supposed to be. The spiritual journey does not mean from “here” to “there.” The knowledge and enlightenment that we seek are no further from us than is the voice of God. We don’t need more names, knowledge, or skills – we only need access to the wisdom that we have always had. To begin or strengthen the process of unlearning, we need to develop good habits. And so I present…

Good Habits
When you have formed a good habit, not only will it become necessary to you, but the corresponding bad habit will no longer hold any appeal and will die a natural death. A new set of neural paths is thus formed while the old paths are gradually obliterated. Neuroscience says that forming a new, better habit is much more effective than trying to eliminate a bad habit. Good habits are like a group of lieutenants or executive assistants, working for us by relieving us of the need for conscious attention to an excess of details. Compare the efforts of a child learning to walk, or of a man learning to swim or ride a bicycle with a young child running through a playground or the expert swimmer or cyclist and you have a good example of what habit can accomplish. Our conscious mental processes — in the area of right-thinking – are often as ineffective as the efforts of the child learning to walk or the adult learning to swim or ride a bicycle.

Suppose we were forced to make the same effort in breathing that we do in any voluntary action, how laborious it would be. In the same way, controlled thinking is an effort at first, but stay with it long enough and it becomes a habit and almost automatic. When you make your habits your friend, you make your nervous system an ally. Just like bike riding or walking cease to be conscious processes, an expert thinker comes in time to balance his mind and control it in accordance with the laws of right-thinking. Little or no conscious attention is required for the body or for mental processes.

With most of us, wrong-thinking is habitual and automatic. When right-thinking becomes automatic and as unconscious as breathing, we shall have become truly our own friends. The heart beats and the lungs are inflated without conscious effort and those muscles are never tired, whereas voluntary action of the muscles soon fatigues. Athletes who persist too long in the development of any set of muscles become physically unbalanced. Too much conscious direction of thought produces a sort of mental paralysis – we become unbalanced mentally.

Reflection AND Action
Reflection must eventually find an outlet in action. It must find expression because of that intimate association of thought and the nervous system. If it does not, we become self-hypnotized by watching our own mental processes. Mere affirmations are not enough. One who goes no further than affirmations is like a would-be bicyclist who devotes the majority of her energy to affirming that she can ride, without ever getting on a bicycle to give his thought an outlet in action. Endeavor to give concrete expression to the truths you hold in mind, for only then do they come to life.

Kindness, consideration, cheerfulness, self- control may all become habits. They should in fact be designated as normal habits of a first-class mentality – the normal inheritance of the spiritually well-born. They are acquired, sometimes painfully and with much effort. Gradually, like the expert cyclist for whom bicycling has become a habit, we are relieved from conscious effort. We are balanced and able to enjoy the “scenery.”

When we find ourselves thinking thoughts of an undesirable nature, we must put the brakes on, stop the current of thoughts, and turn on to another road. If we have developed an alternate map of the territory and are clear about the values that inform our journey, we will be okay. Putting on the brakes and changing the path is where the Will comes in – the topic for a future post. Until then, remember that it’s easier to cultivate good habits than it is to try to bury bad ones. It’s also never too late to begin the process of growing gently.

P.S. If you find this of interest, sign up (in the box on the right, or wait for the fancy Pop-up) for my gentle emails on moving through the crap.

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My Year Of Disconnecting From The Matrix

matrixbuilding My Year Of Disconnecting From The Matrix
The past year has made for a wild ride.  I disconnected from the Matrix when I quit my job in December 2009.  This was a move away from a culture of deception and mediocrity.  It was also a move into a scary future that I hoped would allow me to live my values more fully while being of some service to a wider world.

As many people who have made this leap know, figuring out things like how to put food on the table, pay a mortgage, children’s tuition, health insurance (or not) – can take away from your entrepreneurial energy as well as put a strain on a marriage.

I’ve lost “friends” who, it seems, only defined me by my professional position and the social status that it temporarily conveyed. Stepping out of a lie allows you to breathe but those first breaths can be painful.

New Friends and Old Friends
I have been fortunate to have gone through several periods of “awakening” and this run at freedom is one of those times. I have been able to affirm the value of some people who have been close to me and learn from the fear and weakness of others who maybe once were. I’ve had a self-taught Masters-level education in online media and marketing, discovered inspiration in the blogosphere and rediscovered it in person. The education my children are receiving as Mommy and Daddy work from home has also been priceless. This run we’re making has as much to do with their future freedom as it does with their parents’ declaration of independence.

Social Media Muses
Some of the muses from the blogosphere who have kept me going are (in no particular order):

  • Danielle Laporte of White Hot Truth; she is irreverent and motivational.  She provides an excellent model of how social media can be used to promote freedom, creativity and caring;
  • Chris Brogan – he’s one of the gurus of social media and incites a lot of passion – most of it positive.  What I know is that his book “Trust Agents” was my first guide to this world and that this guy with thousands of followers took the time to answer my introductory “tweet.”
  • Johnny B. Truant, one of the cool guys in the space.  He got my Boomer Ronin site up while answering my newbie concerns in an incredibly responsive, patient, and educational manner.  He also introduced us to a wonderful guy who redesigned the site for our girls school in India;
  • Dave Navarro ,who puts out some of the best products I have found for people who are trying to figure out how to do business on the internet;
  • Justin Lukasavige, whose podcast I listen to religiously.  He talks about coaching and does it with unabashed  enthusiasm.
  • John Carlton – this guy is one of the giants in sales copywriting.  I have a couple of his products and I’m saving up to attend one of his live events.  If I have the discipline to follow his materials, I’ll be a lot better off a lot faster.  I will also follow his advice to teach my children the copywriting skills that will put them in a better position than some of the learnings they will receive in the “academy”;
  • Lev Natan of The Empowerment Connection; we’ve only connected online but I really like what I see on his site and I look forward to a possible collaboration in 2011.

Offline Inspiration
Now for the people I interact with offline:

  • Karen Best – My Princeton classmate and co-manger (and who carried me for 4 yrs.!) during my student job at Princeton; a courageous parent and entrepreneur;
  • Ian Cameron – friends since we were 18.  Me from Harlem, him from Mt. Desert Island in Maine.  He’s a fly-fishing guide who does that Frank Sinatra  “My Way” thing better than anyone I know;
  • Carl Kissin – a classmate from Collegiate who I’ve recently reconnected with during his production of “Date of a Lifetime.”  You saw it coming more than three decades ago – he really is a comedy genius;
  • Adam Walinsky – among other things, he worked with Bobby Kennedy and has done more than anyone in modern times to get police to do their work in a better way.  He is a major inspiration for me as I tilt at windmills.  I’m honored that he has brought me in to play some small role in re-creating the Baltimore Police Department under its visionary Commissioner;
  • Tony (“Dino”) – I knew him as a little boy and he’s grown into an incredible man. He’s a protector of society. For more than two decades he has been one of those who stands between us and the wolves. As if that were not enough, he has been forced to “speak truth to power” in another bureaucracy that eats its best;

  • Yaromil Olivares -go read her excellent post today at Boomer Ronin. She too decided that being surrounded by  dishonesty, fecklessness, and lassitude was too high a price to pay for an impressive title and paycheck.  Her courage is only matched by her sense of purpose and her creativity.  We’re going to do great things together in our business. She is also a Creativity Coach who you should check out for your individual growth;
  • Bernadette Hageman -my wife – the person who shapes my craziness into something productive.  She runs the house, takes care of our disparate band of children, runs the foundation that supports dozens of girls in India in their education and and their lives, handles the administrative duties for my growing “empire,” renovates the space for our new personal training facility, provides more value to my sister as her friend than I do to my sister as a brother, finds time to provide motherly advice to a number of “Millenials” and she still finds the time to love me even though she didn’t exactly sign on for this current tour of duty.

So, “Thank You” to my new social media friends and much love to all the people above and others, who let me know that this tribe is possible and necessary.

For people new to this blog and for those returning who haven’t already done so, subscribe using the blue and white form down and to the right or with the cool “Pop-up.” We’re pretty smart, we care, and we always like making new friends.

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How To Defend Yourself Against The Mind Monsters

mind monsters How To Defend Yourself Against The Mind Monsters
Kind of a Preamble
Like it does for many people, the end of the year serves as my helper in organizing  my thoughts and providing me with feedback.  I would not have traded this last year for anything.  My wife and I have had to make tough decisions on this road to self employment.  I have at times felt irresponsible in giving up a well-paying job and benefits to live in accord with my values.  We have had to put a lot of things on hold for ourselves and our children because of our changed economic circumstances.  

Our current life represents more than a desire to wave our “freak flags.”  We know from conversations on this blog and from trainings and workshops we conduct, that there are a whole lot of people with an unrequited entrepreneurial spirit; creative people forced to smother their gifts because of economic exigencies; people in pain whose suffering seems endless – we believe that we have a lot to offer these people.  We also know that an inheritance of “guts” to step out and live like Ronin in furtherance of service, creativity, and decency will be more important to our children than any estate they might be tempted to squander after we’re gone.

Tim Berry may be right – at this point we may be unemployable.  So Bernadette, Yaromil (our partner in crime), and I will take deep breaths and keep aggressively moving forward into 2011.  Recent past and future posts are part of a toolbox that have helped me and I hope will help others anytime the “fear monster” sticks its head around the corner. Pogo and FDR were right. So, with that in mind…

Too many of us let the Mind move aimlessly.  Every thought of fear, or of selfishness – however they may be dressed up – separates us from our consciousness of God, the absolute Truth. With each separation we are weakened, for God is the one Source of life and strength. But every true concept, every thought of love, draws us nearer to God by bringing love and truth into consciousness and thus strengthens and fortifies us. Check out “The Three Principles” by Sydney Banks for more on the connection between Mind, Thought, and Consciousness. True personal development should result in more connection rather than a feeling of being special, evolved, or enlightened.

In an earlier post I wrote about relationships. This post is about getting getting in closer relationship with ourselves.  What we are seeking here is the increased practice of right-thinking in all areas of life so that normal reactions in the mind and body will be encouraged and unfavorable reactions inhibited.

Body and Mind
Unlike other animals, our nervous system is under the supervision of a thinking brain. Whether this is a benefit or a disadvantage is determined by the quality of our thoughts. A temporary mood such as anger or fear produces a temporary physical change caused by the stress of a particular. If these become our habitual states, the physiological changes become permanent and they are negative. The body has no life apart from the mind and our internal state will become outwardly manifest.
Just like a piano wire that becomes distorted by a constantly hammered note, our nerves become distorted and worn out by the constant hammering of fear and anxiety. We can see this in individuals and we can see this in societies where the majority of people are living in a mix of despair and constant media stimulation. Instead of relaxation and emotional state management most of us in this country are raised on cycles of over-stimulation and a resulting depression.

Wake Up and See The Enemy
The chief enemy of the nervous system is misdirected, uncontrolled thought. No matter what the usefulness of a particular mental state , it is followed by physiological reactions of some sort. This can start out as relatively inconspicuous changes in breathing, circulation, and general muscular tension. Check yourself out now – are you holding your breath? Are the muscles in your neck and upper back, loose or relaxed? Too many of us carry this residual tension around. Our bodies reflect our thoughts and the cycle gets continued through the continued communication we have with ourselves as the result of the physical tension.  We develop a harmful feedback loop.  What we want is a “feed-forward” system that creates the environment for growth.

An Experiment
As a brief experiment, come up with a memory or thought that has slightly sad emotional content. Hunch your shoulders, lower your gaze, and make your breathing shallower. The feeling of sadness will get stronger. Now, stand up, shake your body out and bring up a neutral thought (pink elephants are usually safe) to break that sad emotional state. Bring the thought back but this time direct your gaze towards the ceiling, breathe deeply from the diaphragm, and bring a smile to your face. It will be impossible to get that sad feeling back. Your mind and your body will reproduce whatever cycle you train it to reproduce.

Learn to act “as if” you have whatever resourceful qualities are required by the particular context.  This is a first step to developing a strong self concept.  Align this self concept with your values and your on your way to health and growth.

I would love to hear about anyone else who’s jumped ship in this economy to follow their moral or creative muse.

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