Today’s blog is a bit of a departure. I encourage you to bring your beginner’s mind as I share a story of experimentation, discovery and learning guided by three teachers.
Michael A Singer
I recently discovered Michael A. Singer. I devoured two of his books, The Untethered Soul and Living Untethered, and most recently listened to The Surrender Experiment. Unlike the first two, the latter is autobiographical and felt like a modern-day version of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Unsurprisingly, Singer considers Yogananda one of his key spiritual teachers.
Throughout the book, Singer describes his journey through life as an experiment with surrender. He consciously surrendered to the universe and let it guide his actions rather than what his rational brain suggested. What follows is a life journey more fantastical than any work of fiction.
As I read his book, I thought of all the moments over the past two years when I felt similar gifts from the universe as my coaching journey unfolded. As I contemplated my own surrender experiment, what arose for me was the paradox of intention and surrender. I am a goal-oriented person. I attribute much of my success to being purposeful about what I want to achieve and living my life intending to fulfill that purpose. Yet I have also felt the gift of surrendering to the universe on many occasions.
This paradox took root in my subconscious. I discussed it with my sister on my Saturday run, and on Monday morning’s run, I discussed it with a fellow coach. How should I approach this paradox?
It was time for a second teacher.
I discovered Ann Betz last month when she appeared on my current favorite podcast, Coaches on Zoom Drinking Coffee, hosted by Alex Pascal. I loved what she had to say about neuroscience and consciousness, two areas I have been reading voraciously lately. The day after I listened to that podcast, I received an email announcing an upcoming presentation by Betz on The Neuroscience of Consciousness. A gift from the universe, to be sure.
Betz’s presentation was last week. Eventually, we reached a section where she talked about Value Conflagration. When she displayed the slide, I typed “intention and surrender” in the chat and prepared to hit send. Betz spoke of how we can take two seemingly conflicting values and intentionally conflagrate them. The example she gave was “humility” and “bigness.” She combined those two words to create “humiligness,” a value where one can embrace humility while still allowing themselves the opportunity to enjoy “bigness.” I loved the example. I wrote about my struggles along these lines in my Promote Yourself blog post a few months back.
When Betz asked for a volunteer, I waited politely for a few seconds, and when no one else jumped in, I raised my hand. Together we explored my paradox and tried on different variations. We eventually landed on “inturrender.” In the chat, someone noted how my body shifted as we landed on that term. I was happy it showed outwardly. Inside I had chills running up my torso. We were definitely on to something here.
As powerful as that was, something was still missing. In the evening, I had to return to my notes to remember the word we had landed on. The universe needed to give me one more teacher.
Brian Johnson is the co-founder of Heroic and a fellow arete enthusiast, and I have followed him for a long time. The next morning I followed my morning ritual, which included making my daily commitments in the Heroic app and hitting one of my targets by listening to a daily dose of Johnson’s wisdom through his Heroic +1s. Today’s +1? You’re Teleological – Start Acting Like It!
Johnson refers to Brian Tracy and the fact that we are teleological beings. Here is an excerpt from the transcript.
“Brian (Tracy) tells us: “Aristotle wrote that human beings are teleological organisms, which simply means that we are purpose driven. Therefore, you feel happy and in control of your life only when you have a clear goal that you are working toward each day. This also means that this ability to become a lifelong goal setter is one of the most important disciplines you will ever develop. We are teleological beings. We are purpose driven. We NEED goals that drive us. Or we suffer.”
As Johnson likes to say – insert head-exploding emoji here 🤯🤯🤯
I needed to turn to another teacher, Aristotle, to tie it all together and understand my authentic self.
- Intention (teleological). I am purpose-driven. Goals drive me. I’m a teleological being.
- Surrender (ekdosis). Over the years, I’ve learned not to over-rotate on those goals. They guide me, but it’s about the journey, not the destination. I practice ekdosis.
So inturrender became a combination of the ancient Greek words for purpose and surrender, and teliodosis emerged.
What is possible when I practice teliodosis?
I can train with intent and purpose in a quest to run a sub-3-hour marathon. I can run my next marathon without my targeting computer (aka my Garmin), surrender to the universe, and see what arises.
I can set a vision for my coaching practice that embraces bigness. I can recognize that what matters is that I enjoy the journey and don’t overly attach to those bigness aspirations.
Putting It Into Practice
I hope you enjoyed my journey of intention and surrender. Here are some thoughts about how to put this into practice for yourself.
- Bring your beginner’s mind to every conversation. We open ourselves to learning and possibility when we approach things with a beginner’s mind.
- Recognize the value of teachers wherever they may surface.
- Practice teliodosis. Be purpose-driven, let that shape your path, and simultaneously, be open to possibility from the universe and surrender when it’s telling you to follow a different path.
Want to comment? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.
A brief disclaimer: I love the Heroic app so much that I am a Heroic investor.