Channeling Your Own Creative Power

Spring in full bloom is a perfect time to spread your creative wings — including through playfulness, joy and humor — with some playful monkey business. If you’re feeling more creative or playful than last year, it might have to do with this being the Chinese Year of the Monkey. This nimble, playful and oh-so-clever primate wants adventure or to seek out more creative solutions (in contrast to the energy of last year’s Goat, which was more about careful footing and diligence).

How can we channel creative energy this year that supports our learning and productivity? Well, truly fruitful creativity requires focusing your attention and doing things in the right order. Ironically, these boundaries free up creative power so it can flow through us. Hardly anything is more joyful than creative productivity!

Focus On Goals

Creative power is unlimited, but requires focus to produce effective or pleasing results. If you want to creatively design or produce something, make your goal enough of a top priority to work toward it every day. That’s how I finished my book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. I wrote an hour or two upon waking every morning for over four years — every day of the week, no matter where I was. In spite of the disciplinary aspect of making myself do this, I found I kept discovering fresh insights!

Do Things in the Right Order

Creative Power is the first archetype of the great Chinese oracle — the I Ching, or Book of Changes. It represents the highest expression of pure Yang ‘doing’ energy. As the Visionary I Ching App advises, if your goals are in alignment with the greater good — if you assert yourself in a positive way — actions taken with good timing produce success. How do we channel creativity most effectively? We start by doing things in the right order, while creating some space for creative inspiration. A mindfulness practice like the “Letting Go” meditation taught in Great Decisions, Perfect Timing, is an easy way to release mental roadblocks, “priming” your mind for better intuitive reception. It’s critical to learn how to clear your mind of distractions and emotional clutter when you need a creative solution the most!

Work Can Be Fun!

If you are focused on a creative pursuit, make sure to take in the pleasure and joy of the experience. A recent article in Current Biology by Patrick Bateson noted that “acting playfully” and “coming up with new ideas” and being humorous are linked. Interestingly, playful creativity was defined as an internal human attribute — as opposed to being motivated by external rewards, which were shown to actually inhibit creativity! Organizations should take note that it is beneficial to profits and customer satisfaction for staff members to be playful and creative at work. Bateson points out that companies like 3M give employees a portion of each day to engage in “speculative ideas” to help spur their creative juices.

Channeling Creativity

Let feelings of deep pleasure sink in … let yourself enjoy the process — whether you’re writing, playing music or making art. If you feel distracted or frustrated, do a quick “Letting Go” meditation, or just put creative work aside and escape into something you enjoy. By combining focus, timing and playfulness, you will be able to joyfully channel creative power. So, plant some wild seeds and manifest some monkey business!

China Awakens to Spiritual Heritage

Sometimes perfect timing happens the minute you make a great decision and sometimes it takes years. My recent trip to China in October illustrates the point. Amazing synchronicities proved out the truism that “everything happens for a reason!”

Attending this year’s International Holistic Centers Gathering, held outside of Beijing, I was asked to talk on my new book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. Now, Beijing is fascinating, but what hits you upon arrival is a thick and suffocating smog that makes it difficult to see further than a city block. Add traffic gridlock in a city of 20 million people and, in spite of great historic sites, the place is barely livable.

The conference was held at a resort community known as “Jackson Hole, China” (search articles online). A billionaire developer, Mr. Liu Xiangpiang, developed the gated community a decade ago, adding in a personal growth center and spa. He and his wife, Annie, were most gracious hosts.

The 1500-home village is modeled on Jackson Hole, Wyoming and is a veritable monument to the American dream of conspicuous consumption. The homes are log castles of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet that cost $1 to $8 million, and they are selling as fast as they are built. The town center reminded me of a Wild West theme park. To make it even more westernized, they built a church with a cross in the center of the town, which is popular for weddings.

Tai chi is a passion of Mr. Liu’s and he led an excellent Tai chi class at our conference every morning. A CNN article quoted Mr. Liu as saying, “Those who can afford to buy houses here, have enough money … they want spiritual fulfillment.”

One can hope that injecting a spiritual element into materialism will lead to greater awareness in China of its own amazing heritage of Taoism, Tai Chi and the I Ching. My experiences with Chinese people lends weight to such hopes, as I found myself in the ironic position of bringing concepts back to a modern China that knows very little about its own noble spiritual traditions.

After giving a talk about my ‘psychological’ I Ching, I took questions. Mr. Liu himself asked me if my Visionary I Ching was influenced by personal growth experiences. I responded recounting many of the trainings I have undertaken. He asked if I had a Chinese translation of my I Ching. When I said “Not yet,” he said he would like to publish it if I did. (I thought, “Maybe that is the reason I am here!”) The next day I met with nine PhD. candidates doing dissertations on the I Ching. When I explained Jung’s synchronicity and archetypes as a way to understand the I Ching, they too thought I was a genius!

Years of refinement of my modern I Ching (beginning in 1989 up until the current Visionary I Ching app now available) have enabled the program to enter China at the right time. Sometimes perfect timing takes a while. In the case of returning a 21st century version of the I Ching back to its roots, it only took 25 years!

Develop Your Visionary Potential

Both businesses I founded had “visionary” in their name (Visionary Software and Visionary Networks). Now we have the Visionary I Ching app. From the start of my entrepreneurial career, I called myself “Chief Visionary Officer,” because I saw myself primarily as an inventor. Obviously, the word “visionary” has long packed meaning and power for me. Nowadays, it has become a fashionable word, if only for marketing.

Writing my book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing, made me wonder if the visionary capacity – including an ability to practice my Visionary Decision-Making (VDM) processes – is really available to everyone. It starts with holding to a vision that can “inspire you to take the risks that grow you when the timing is right.” VDM is simply beyond many people because most people are too busy and distracted to think outside the box of their beliefs.

In truth, a highly visionary capacity is available to everyone … eventually. I wrote the book to serve both those who are already becoming intuitively adept and those who want to. Each of us certainly has a capacity for vision, even if few of us dissolve the box of our thinking.

How can a person develop their visionary capacity? Well, for one thing, you can improve your skill at envisioning novel results by practicing active imagination. In other words, “think different” … and think bigger. That’s how I created the first interactive divination software (which culminated in Tarot.com, I-Ching.com, and now the Visionary I Ching app).

My book shows how to channel and focus Creative Power—the archetype that is first hexagram of the I Ching. This is divine power resource that is always there for you. Through active imagination, dreams and daydreams, Creative Power generates insights and visions. As the nursery school rhyme chants, “life is but a dream.” Yes, but it is a dream that you are creating with and for yourself. Surround yourself with objects or people that inspire you, like favorite music, time with a loved one, or meditating quietly with nature. Doing what inspires you will cultivate intuitive intelligence and creative powers.

You might ask: How do I be sure that my vision is real rather than wishful thinking or fantasies of my ego? In order to be sure that a vision is in alignment with who you are at depth, you can use the “heart-check” method. A trustworthy vision will connect mind, heart and soul. For some, success takes the form of a harmonious and loving family life. For others, it could translate into a strong sense of mission or purpose related to one’s vocation, or some competitive victory on behalf of a partnership, family, tribe or entire world.

As we move toward a more evolved society that spawns dreams of greater creative freedom, the ability to formulate and realize the visionary capacity becomes more essential for individuals and society. Developing your visionary potential and increasing creative freedom is part of your legacy to future generations. As we cultivate intuitive intelligence and evolve toward our human potential, we make it easier for all those who follow us. This is the path of healing the planet as well as ourselves.

The Other Side of the Microphone

In my previous blog post about interviews, I referred to my being the host of KBOO Community Radio‘s Pathways program. In this blog, I’m going to share about my own appearances in support of my latest book, as well as my talks about the I Ching.

Nowadays I find myself on the other side of the microphone as the person who is trying to help people make better decisions via my latest book, the Amazon.com best-selling Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. It’s gratifying to see that there is an appetite for the book and its message, which includes some interest in online classes that we are in the process of developing.

When I invested everything I had in developing I Ching software back in 1989, my peers thought I was crazy. The only excuse I could offer at the time was, “Wherever God drags me, I will follow.” Now I’m finding myself invited (not quite dragged) into the limelight through media interviews and public readings. Even though I don’t have a huge desire to promote myself, the response that Great Decisions, Perfect Timing is receiving tells me that I should step up to the microphone.

Readers have responded warmly to the personal stories in my book. Many have been inspired by how I walked away from a high-paying, VP-level job in the tech industry to pursue my desire for greater creative freedom designing esoteric software that had special meaning for me. However, I signal a note of caution. Some think that the lesson is to simply “follow their muse out of love” and shuck their jobs right away. But after I left my full-time position, I kept up a “day job” as a high-tech marketing consultant for years in order to fund my creative pursuits. Greater creative freedom takes commitment, discipline, and sacrifice. The happy ending to my business story certainly did not happen overnight!

The warm and enthusiastic response to this particular story (and many others in the book) signals a natural drive for greater creative freedom. When I advise people not to quit their day job (just yet), I remind them of how grateful we should be for any creative freedom at all. As recently as 250 years ago, we had no freedom to choose our profession, where we live, even who we marry. You are probably living a high level of creative freedom right now. The desire for even greater creative freedom is positive, however, because this desire drives personal and cultural evolution. It gets better!

If you listen to any of the radio show I’ve been interviewed for, I hope that you find them worthwhile and enjoyable. My recent interview on the Dr. Pat Show (with Pat Baccili) is a great introduction to these podcasts if you haven’t had a chance to hear them yet. You can listen to this and all of my recent interviews on the Resources page of the Divination Foundation website.

Note: All the proceeds from Great Decisions, Perfect Timing and the best-selling Visionary I Ching app go to the non-profit Divination Foundation.

The Transformative Power of Media

Media transforms lives and reflects our fascinations. We read books that inspire us, view films that move us, and listen to programs that broaden our knowledge. Sometimes getting involved with media can be a powerful, transformative experience in and of itself. That certainly describes how I became the host of the Pathways interview program on Portland’s KBOO Community Radio.

During Stage Two of my life (I explain the life stages in my latest book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing), I worked in software marketing for an Oregon start-up. I loved listening to the Pathways interview program on KBOO. At the time, the show was hosted by Tom Park, who conducted insightful interviews with leaders involved with personal and cultural transformation. Obviously, the content of the show resonated with me. In a stroke of synchronicity, I happened to meet Tom at a men’s group in 1980. I told him how much I enjoyed the show, and I mentioned that if he ever wanted help with interviewing to please let me know, because I thought I would be good at it.

Over one year later, Tom contacted me and asked if I was still interested in helping him do interviews on Pathways. I began as co-host and became the primary host of Pathways when Tom retired from the show last year. This all goes to show how after you put yourself out there for what you want, divine providence can come around when the timing is right—another case of the “law of attraction” at work!

The Pathways show is an extension of my life’s mission and the mission of my non-profit Divination Foundation, which is to research, develop and promote technologies for personal and cultural transformation. I’ve learned so much picking the brains of cultural change agents and spiritual leaders, and that’s helped me understand myself and has also provided a wide perspective on the world we live in, to support a sense of hope and meaning. In the process, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the years, including such luminaries as Deepak Chopra, Don Miguel Ruiz and John Gray.

My Pathways interviews are available to stream or download on Divination.com, and you can subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes. The conversations cover personal and spiritual development, entrepreneurship, financial responsibility, creative power, shamanism, sexuality, philanthropy, environmental issues, spiritual awakenings and many other topics that are delightfully unclassifiable. The programs are short (28 minutes long), free of advertising and free of charge.

I’m no stranger to giving talks or being interviewed myself (or giving speeches to large audiences). In my next blog post, I’ll discuss my adventures on the other side of the microphone!

 

Grandma’s Law: Bite the Bullet, Have More Fun!

A hyper-connected world makes us hyper-distracted. Smartphones, tablets, even watches spit out endless texts, tweets and funny kittens — making it difficult to concentrate or accomplish goals. When faced with a list of tasks, the common tendency is to save the hardest for last, putting off the more stressful items until we have no choice. This tendency leads to procrastination or incidental neglect, where critical factors don’t get the attention or quality of thinking they deserve.

How can we better prioritize things to correct for this self-defeating tendency? In my recent book, Great Decisions and Perfect Timing, I bring up an aspect of emotional intelligence known as delayed gratification, which I refer to as “Grandma’s Law.” Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, makes a compelling case for delaying gratification. He calls for greater “cognitive control” to help children manage their attention through the use of mindfulness techniques. This is Grandma’s Law in a nutshell!

The ability to control one’s impulses is a foundation of wise decision-making and effective productivity throughout life. As a parent, I tried to teach my son “Grandma’s Law,” which went like this: “Sure, you can have ice cream… after you finish your green beans.” Putting chores first was a lesson I was made to learn at a young age (I’m grateful about it now.) It took me a while to realize that the removal of overhanging deadlines made subsequent playtime more fun.

Applying Grandma’s Law in my own life, I had achieved perfect grades and scholarship awards throughout a rigorous education. Later, Grandma’s Law made a critical difference in my professional life—informing my decision-making and enabling my ability to survive, and ultimately thrive, as a bootstrap entrepreneur. As a parent, one way I invoked Grandma’s Law with my son was to get him to do his chores and homework on Saturday with Sunday as his play day, rather than the other way around (which he naturally preferred).

Grandma’s Law speaks to the logical aspect of strategic decision-making—prioritization—helping us do things in the right order. It is logical, because it doesn’t take intuition to analyze the most challenging part of a project or to-do list. Just tune into your feelings—the thing you dread having to do the most is where you start!

If you’re not sure how to focus on the most difficult tasks, ask yourself: What task fills you with the most apprehension? Which are you least confident about? These are the ones to tackle early on. After you knock them off, it’s like rolling downhill until you are done and it’s playtime!

Tip: If you’re stuck, try the “Letting Go” mantra from my book. It’s simple: Focusing on your breathing, let go of identifying with changing thoughts and feelings, while being open to and mindful of whatever arises in your mind. Close your eyes and take a full breath, thinking the word Letting as you inhale and stretching out the Go as you exhale. Repeat as often as necessary until your mind relaxes. Your head is then clear enough to make the wise move. You will get better results and have more fun afterwards!

The Amazing Power of Generosity

In the early days of my Internet start-up (Tarot.com), I assumed the sovereign archetype and invented my own currency. I called it “Karma Coins” and it was a radical idea at the time — a way to give registered members a way to make small payments for do-it-yourself Tarot card readings, I-Ching readings and astrology reports — payments that would sometimes be too small for a credit card.

As our first year of Karma Coin operations was ending, I was inspired to give all of our 100,000 members (which grew to 10 million over the next few years) a New Year’s gift of 50 Karma Coins each. It was a gesture born of a generous impulse but also to see what would happen. I told our IT guy to deposit 50 Karma Coins into each account. On the side, I predicted to our small staff that revenues would take a hit for a few days as a result.

Boy, was I wrong! Instead of dropping, sales of Karma Coins almost immediately tripled! After that, I increased the company’s generous giving to our community. We started depositing KCs into members’ accounts on their birthdays, along with a ‘personal’ e-mail from me wishing a happy birthday and telling them about our gift for them.

We were experimenting with generosity as business practice, and it had a “Johnny Appleseed” effect. When we launched Karma Coins, Visionary Networks had few employees and was barely profitable. Some thought that giving things away might destroy our chances to grow and prosper. But this experiment was an example of listening to my intuition and a desire to do a good thing for our community, so I expanded the gift-giving in various creative ways.

Other CEOs have also understood the power of generosity. For example, you may recall recent news story about Dan Price, CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, who pegged $70,000 as minimum wage at his company. He drastically reduced his own pay to balance this out. His rationale was that happy employees are loyal if they are treated generously and have a long-term stake in a business (granted, he held founder’s stock).

We all have an ability to think bigger. In my previous blog post on the Tragedy of the Commons, I referenced Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition. Eisenstein mentions the possibility of making gift-giving itself into a kind of currency – where “a magical synchronicity of wants and needs” can unfold. It’s a fascinating idea.

A coda about Karma Coins: sadly, the practice of giving them away faded after I sold the company and bean-counters took over. But what I had learned from gifting Karma Coins is that when generosity comes from the heart and is in alignment with the collective good, it rebounds to the good of the giver! Even small acts of generosity can grow you while contributing to the greater social good. Let’s challenge ourselves to do at least one generous act a day without expecting anything in return. Generosity is a gift to ourselves … let’s be good to ourselves often!

How Do You Like Your Day Job?

Everyone always has a day job, even well-off folks who have a lot of time or someone like me who sold his business. While I am no longer an employee or an entrepreneur – and I enjoy more creative freedom than I used to – serving as Executive Director of my non-profit Divination Foundation is work. Writing books, like Great Decisions, Perfect Timing, is a lot of work. Paying bills and taxes is work, and managing one’s investments is serious work too.

Most people want more freedom, some room to move. You may not feel you have creative freedom within your current occupation. Even if you don’t have as much as you would like, you have cause to celebrate how much freedom you do have. Only 250 years ago you would have had no choice over many important things—including livelihood, where you lived or even whom you were married off to!

Throughout history, most of a person’s identity was predetermined by family and circumstance. There was little freedom (or privacy) at all. The American and French revolutions gave rise to democratic societies and, together with the Industrial Revolution, the rise of a middle class. Urbanization led to a decline of village customs like arranged marriages and, in general, greatly increased the number of occupational options that people were able to choose from.

Does this progress mean we will ever achieve the freedom to do absolutely anything we want, whenever we want? No. We can choose our trade, but even so, it’s the rare person who can make a living (mostly) doing something they passionately love. Nevertheless, we can still be grateful that we have so much more freedom than our ancestors and many of us have some choice of occupation according to how a job suits our nature and temperament.

In its twisted way, the 2008 financial crisis made it easier for people to appreciate their day job – because they were happy to have one at all! Many people who were laid off had a hard time finding employment, and were forced to reinvent themselves. In some cases this was a positive disruption, an opportunity to discover a new occupation that may be in better alignment with one’s sense of creative and personal freedom. Now that the job freeze seems to be thawing, more people are able to make adjustments to their job descriptions toward doing business that makes greater room for heart and spirit. And, with a more inclusive and empathic feminine style of leadership, we are changing the face of the workplace from the inside out.

Whatever occupation you find yourself in, the ultimate key is to find the meaning in the service (or products) you help provide, and see how it at least indirectly supports your personal development path – and possibly the evolution of your company – with the help of your own improved decision-making.

As long as you have a day job that is not harming anyone (including yourself), consider yourself fortunate. As you learn how to make better intuitive decisions that bring you into closer and closer alignment with your own highest values, bit-by-bit you’ll be guided to perceive whatever it is you do with a perspective that supports both personal satisfaction and advancement.

The Evolution of Your Mission

What is a mission? For some, it is a singular sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. I think that’s partially correct. However, a mission is not the result of specific acts (or actions) we take. It has everything to do with evolving your consciousness and awakening your creative power. How many missions can a person have in one lifetime? Is it possible to think in terms of having a different one at each stage? Yes! I reject perfectionistic fantasies about one’s lifelong mission. I find that the “all-or-nothing” philosophy is self-defeating, and it is diametrically opposed to true strategic decision-making. Our ultimate mission is about being, not doing.

To help illustrate this point, think of your life as (broadly) divided into three stages. We arrive at several crossroads on our individual journeys; each stage offers different dilemmas, different priorities, and different strategic decisions that need to be made. We investigate these stages in my new book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. They are Self-Discovery; Building and Providing; and Giving Back. Let’s discuss each stage of life as I’ve come to understand them.

Self-Discovery

The mission in Stage One is self-discovery and the primary strategic decision is in answer to the question: “What shall I try next?” As a result of trial and error – which might include a fair amount of job-hopping and, in the social sphere, dating a lot of different people – we trip across one or two things that utterly fascinate us. It may take 20 years for the reasons to fully manifest – as it did in my career story – but your natural fascinations are important at this stage of life.

Building and Providing

The mission in Stage Two is to produce and provide – for yourself and perhaps a family. It is during this stage that we master skills and build a livelihood that will support us and others. My career in the software business, followed by becoming an inspired entrepreneur, exemplifies this stage for me. My only goal during this stage was to make a living doing something I found interesting, and ultimately creating products and services that fascinated me. The primary questions during this stage have to do with managing resources, teamwork, logistics, and making tactical decisions.

Giving Back

The mission is Stage Three is giving back. It is the patron stage, where you’re a mentor, sponsor, and/or you engage in philanthropic activities. You’re creating a legacy. In fact, at this stage, you should ask: “What is the most impactful legacy I can create starting right now?” In my case, after I had mastered valuable professional skills and eventually sold the business I built in Stage Two, I chose to create a non-profit entity: the Divination Foundation. The Divination Foundation has a mission to help people make profound decisions and take the risks that will grow them.

Ultimately, your mission is not a function of what you do or have done, but it is to be a self-actualized human being. Always remember … it’s about being!

What are the Synchronicities In Your Life?

Hearing people’s synchronicity stories – and sharing my own – has been a fun offshoot of the launch of Great Decisions, Perfect Timing. One of my favorite visionary beliefs is that there are no accidents and everything happens for a reason; we can recognize amazing coincidences as meaningful – as synchronicities that we can intuitively perceive and actually use to improve our timing.

In the book, I noted, “living a synchronistic life involves cultivating acceptance and wonder while letting go of judgment and resistance to the way things appear.” Wonder is important to synchronicity, the perception that there are no accidents, and things happen for a reason. I’m sure you can think of a dozen instances where you felt there was an unseen intelligence involved in the way certain situations in your life have unfolded.

Richard Hopcke, the author of There Are No Accidents: Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives, argues that synchronicity helps us bring a “symbolic attitude to our lives,” and I couldn’t agree more. Whenever you experience misfortune – and we all do – rather than blaming yourself or others, it is helpful to think of it as a new point of view on a larger pattern. You will also notice “little miracles” that occur in your life. For example, in the book, I relate an anecdote where I needed to buy a house to accommodate myself, my teenage son, my startup and a couple of employees. However (and many of you will relate to this), my credit score had taken a beating because I was a struggling entrepreneur and no longer a regularly-paid employee.

I located a house in Portland that was just right, but was immediately told that there had been dozens of other applicants ahead of me. After exchanging small talk with the owner (“so what do you do for a living?”), she was delighted to learn that I was the producer of the Synchronicity software for the Mac, that funny new ice cube-shaped computer she had purchased. This came as a shock, because in those days, Apple was not the juggernaut that it is now. She also told me that Synchronicity was the only software she herself had ever purchased. We both noted the remarkable synchronicity that had brought us together and she leased the house to me on the spot. A year later, she sold it to me and we ran the company out of there until we outgrew the space. To this day, I refer to that home as “the house synchronicity built.”

The previous owner of that house and I were both aware of the power of synchronicity. She could have shrugged off the coincidence, or I could have decided not to approach her at all because of my credit score. But we both listed to our intuitive antennae, which led to making the right move at the right time.

I’m sure you have similar stories to share, and I’d love to hear them. In Chapter 12 of Great Decisions, Perfect Timing, I include a link to our Synchronicity Forum, which contains amazing tales of synchronicity shared by readers of the book. Please share (anonymously if you wish) your own stories of synchronicity, and be inspired by others. (You can also email such stories to the Divination Foundation.) May we all learn to better appreciate the power of synchronicity!