A good day for the ego is a bad day for the soul.

– Robin Sharma –

 

What was your work experience like the past few months?

 

Some people tell me that they felt guilty for not going to work while receiving a salary, others experienced a lot of pressure due to a salary cut while not at work, and a lot of people stopped receiving any income. Some lucky ones worked from home. Whatever the circumstances, work-life looked and felt so different and we couldn’t even prepare for it. Initially, the conversations were about the space at home, saving time and money on travel, more time with the family and the amazing opportunities of online work. But a few months later people started complaining about not having boundaries, having to be online all the time, missing their colleagues, being home but not really being present and struggling with basic habits.

One of the most fascinating discoveries I’ve made was around people’s ego-spaces. James Hollis calls it the social self. They either felt free from people-distractions to focus on work or experienced a real loss in terms of the work role, status and place in the world and some felt less anxious for being able to work from a truer self.

Because with lockdown came the loss of ego space – you couldn’t walk into the office anymore thinking about what you looked like or share any personal space while presenting your slides or feel important because you have the corner office – on the online platforms you can just be yourself and then focus to get the job done. Some were freed from it and some really missed it.

It made me wonder about the following question: “Who are you when you do not go to the office – who are you if you only have your home and online space?”

Maybe this is an opportunity to be more soulful? Of course, there are a lot of downsides as well – we need to be our social selves as well to feel a connection, read facial expressions and body language.

I am still reflecting on this, but would love to hear from you about your experience on how the loss of ego-space made you more soulful to be yourself, to have more time, to just focus on the simple task on your desk (or bed)? This without wasting your energy to manage other expectations while the ego compares and compete – or maybe you’ve experienced a great loss because of all of this? Or maybe you can arrange a discussion in your team or family about these experiences?

Join me for 2 opportunities at the end of this year to just stand back for a day – reflect on this crazy year in terms of business or life, be quiet, re-align or just be.

I am doing a day retreat within the framework of contemplative spirituality for individuals at the beautiful Stillebos Retreat Farm. I am also inviting executive leaders to the annual Christmas in November Leaders retreat at San Gabriel historical farm.

Book now! Or contact me for more info.

Go well

 

Guided Reflection by André Kilian

& Music by Olafar Arnalds.

 

 

 

 

It is a time of global wilderness, isn’t it? In South Africa, we have been in hard lockdown for almost 40 days, significantly the same time that Jesus spent in the desert. It is as if wilderness has found us globally – we were forced into a liminal space – liminal means threshold or waiting room in Latin. Often during liminal times or times of crisis, we reflect on what matters most to us. I am struck by how this time emphasises the great inequality in South Africa. While some families share photos of how they retreated to their holiday homes for 6 weeks, others queue for days to get a small meal. While some exercise in their gardens others are forced to sit in their one chair in a 3×3 shack.

But whatever our context most of us can identify with a time of wilderness, thinking about our needs and wants and what is really important and worthwhile – and I am so encouraged to see how humanity shows itself – people that are really concerned about each other’s wellbeing. It is a time to really take responsibility and be ethical – this is indeed the great wilderness test –  a test of ethical choices all round.
If nothing else we have more time! May it be a time of wisdom and discernment, where we use the TIME that we so crave when we rush and run through life. And when you get back to “life as you know it” be very aware of what is different and how you want to do things differently. Life as we knew it will never be the same, that is for sure!

Take 5 minutes and try this:

Take few deep breaths…

What is your wilderness experience during this time?

Reflect on one thing that you learned during this time about what is really important to you.

How will you respond to this? Make sure to share this learning with one person or post it somewhere.

SOULFUL CONVERSATIONS:
As part of the diverse global experiences and how we learn from each other during this time I’m starting a few interviews with people in different contexts that I want to share.

I interviewed Brian Draper in the UK on Zoom to start the Soulful Conversations and more will follow. Watch the interview with Brian here:


May wilderness, although uncomfortable, be a time of wisdom globally!

 

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”   –   Kitty O’ Meara

At the beginning of 2020, I experienced the world as was more divided than ever.  Countries at war, Trump, Brexit, people struggling to work together, you name it – isn’t it ironic that now a few months later the world is busy uniting as one to fight Covid-19.  We have no choice – suddenly we agree on one thing and the only way to get through this is to stand together and work together.  It levels the playing field.  Suddenly background, wealth, ethnicity, culture, ideology doesn’t make any difference, no exceptions – we are all in this together whether we want it or not.

This is an opportunity for unity – let’s unite with Kitty O’Meara and pray for healing on all levels – and find new ways of being. I am already witnessing immense care and the goodness of people at work and play. This is a testing time globally it challenges us towards thinking and being aware of each other in different ways.  Suddenly space and touch mean different things than a few weeks ago.  Somebody shared with me yesterday how paradigms can quickly shift and gave the following example:  “be a good neighbour – stay at home!”

Maybe it is a time to turn in, read books, listen, pray, meditate and rest. In the Christian tradition, it is also the season of Lent where we are aware of time in the wilderness – and isn’t this a wilderness experience in some sort of way for most of us?

May you be safe wherever you are!

Thich Nhat Hanh tells a beautiful story in his book “Silence” about the Coconut Monk. This monk did many things to teach peace.  In Vietnam, at the time of the war, he once collected bullet and bomb fragments from an area in the Mekong Delta. He then did an extraordinary thing – he took the bullet and bomb fragments and forged them into a big bell – he called it the bell of mindfulness. He then hung this bell in his practice centre in Mekong Delta  and wrote the following poem:

Dear bullets, dear bombs, I have helped you come together in order to practice. In your former life, you have killed and destroyed. But in this life, you are calling out to people to wake up, to wake up to humanity, to love, to understanding.
This bell’s very existence was a symbol of how transformation is possible and he rang it every morning and every night to invite soldiers into times of reflection.

At the beginning of this year, I really hope this story helps you to believe that you can make small changes in the way you live and work. That even difficult things and brokenness can be used as a reminder. And may the metaphor of the bell remind you to make small decisions about the way that you will (literally or metaphorically) ring a bell in your own life to remind you of the small changes and habits that you want to stick to this year. To wake up to humanity and love. Do keep it simple!

And let’s remember the words of Leonard Cohen in his song “Anthem”:

      Ring the bells that still can ring

      Forget the perfect offering

      There’s a crack in everything

      But that’s where the light gets in



Your response:

  Take 5 minutes to think reflectively about the following.

How can you create something that can be like a bell that rings in your life this year – something that reminds you to stop, to love and to be human? Think about something simple that you can use as a reminder, not to make you feel guilty, but to help you, your team or your family to believe that small changes and transformation is possible in 2020. It can be a reminder on your phone, a photo or a picture against a wall, a tree that you pass every morning or maybe a bell at your office?  Keep it simple and specific though…

My bell was a drop of water…watch the video of my story here. 


Events for 2020:

I am again conducting a few retreats and leadership retreats this year – more information can be found here.

And I still spend time with individuals and teams on request for reflective walks, experiential team development processes and team retreats – more information here.

I regularly spend time with teams in a labyrinth – ask me about this.

Also, keep letting me know if you have any soulful stories to share – it is wonderful to hear about the small moments that provide meaning and purpose.

Ring the bell!

André

Soul Nudges 16 // Rest well

As we come to the end of another year let us take a few minutes and reflect on the joys and the challenges of this year. If you are lucky enough to have a proper break don’t wait for the holidays to do this reflection, do it this week! If you do not have a proper break, remember to create small spaces for rest.

I am so grateful for the journey over the last year. My time with people in different walks of life brings so many awakenings and waterdrop-moments. It is such a privilege to be a witness of people’s journeys – be it organisational or personal. And the real challenge at the end of the year is to find ways to disengage from all the busy-ness.

I want to acknowledge the privilege of this journey by sharing a few hopeful stories of the past year and motivate you to rest well.

In a recent leadership retreat “Christmas in November”, I was again energised by the willingness of a group of leaders who didn’t know each other to share and be vulnerable. We again learned that when we intentionally create space the rest happens anyway.

And in a labyrinth walk with a team of soulful leaders, we shared our 6-word memoirs afterwards – this is where we summarize the leadership journey in 6 words in a creative way as a commitment. One person wrote the following 6 words:

From egoistic control towards soulful simplicity…

Isn’t this a challenge for each of us in any walk of life? To let go of the control and return towards God-given simplicity?

I was also very encouraged by a quarterly team session called Soulful Fridays where the organisation decided to elect 3 ambassadors to be the gatekeepers for their soulful organisation – they summoned them to be the organisation’s conscience and audit their ability to be a soulful organisation by looking at their daily practices.

Encouraging indeed! So let us celebrate our own soulful stories of 2019 and ask ourselves how we can respond to this in a simple practical way and pass it on. And on the way to the turn of another year do remember to rest well.

In his book ‘The 5 am Club’, Robin Sharma says:

Remember that growth happens in the resting phase, not in the performing phase.

You grow while you are sleeping not when you burn the candle on both sides. You grow when you turn in and reflect not when you are going at full speed!

So do make sure that you make time to rest and turn in because that will set up your growth for 2020.

I am excited about next year and will share events, dates and ideas early in the new year. I am quite excited by the possibility to host another soulful conference in September 2020 but more about this in the new year.

Rest well.

Many people who are secretly weary of work have never given themselves time, or taken time out or away from work, to allow their spirits to catch up!

– John O’Donohue

This is so true on many different levels, isn’t it? Taking TIME to allow your spirit (or being) to catch up is often quite difficult.

What is it that we need in this day and age to make sure that we stay connected to the deeper part of work? And is it even realistic?

I refer to work not only as paid job or occupation – I refer to any part of “your life’s work”-  being a manager, parent, friend, partner or leader. Is work something that you just do or is it part of who you are? Is it possible that work can be more than what you do, but also how you do it?

John O’Donohue, Irish Poet and Scholar, writes beautifully about work in his book, “Anam Cara”.

“Work could be an arena of possibility and expression and our nature longs for it”, he writes. 

“The soulful approach to the workplace ensures that creativity and spontaneity become energising forces. Remember when you sell your soul, you ultimately buy a life of misery!”

The workplace as a soulful place of creativity and spontaneity? Is this too good to be true or even possible?

It must be possible to find some simple spontaneity or creativity through work to allow your spirit to catch up. It might not be possible to change everything today, but maybe you can change the way you look at things, and look at work with a creative and kind eye as a small step?

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!

RESPONSE?

Find one mundane aspect of your work today to do as if it was the first time you were doing it. If it was the first time you had to do this, how would you approach it with creativity and try something different?

Think about the basics. Just the way you arrive at work or leave your home or greet a colleague or pick up the kids or pay the bills or prepare food! Maybe just be creative about the way you sit at your desk?

Go and do your “life’s work” as if for the first time with creativity.

Work soulfully!

André