Alan E. Shelton's Blog

July 19, 2014

It all started innocently enough. An invitation to speak at the library in my hometown of Corona had introduced me to an aspiring global citizen.

Maisune sat on the front row that day with her mother to listen to a talk about story and authenticity. I am sure that as a high school student she must’ve wondered why her mother had dragged her to this particular talk.

When the event was over they both approached me and asked me if I would be interested in speaking to a Muslim leadership group.

Of course, I loved the idea. I will do anything to go back to my little home town. And some months later I would speak to that group.

Somewhere in this process Maisune had endeared herself to me. This young Muslim superstar, as American as apple pie, finds her way into every heart she touches.

In this I was not different. I was infected.

And some months back, when her graduation came near I was invited to her family celebration intended to honor the mentors and teachers in her life.

I was honored to be included in a group. Even the California traffic couldn’t conspire to keep me away.

It was here that I was treated as an honored part of an extended family. She had claimed me as her mentor and her family honored that decision.

I was treated to a heart and food experience I will never forget. Maisune’s Grandmother, who I immediately adopted, made sure that beautiful food was sent home with me so any of my family who had not come could enjoy.

I was indeed a rich man.

But the moments of beauty and delight are always divided by moments that aren’t.

And in those times we are called to be a voice in our world. Further, in the process of being a mentor there comes a time where it’s my duty to raise my hand and declare that the student has become the teacher.

In the recent news we have seen the carnage visited on the Palestinian population. Modern weapons, ammunition, and manpower have been deployed to commit what the United Nations classes as war crimes.

The most notable feature of this violence has been the killing of innocent children. And this father’s heart of mine cries out every time I see an image of a child that will never hear her father’s stories again.

Into this fray, with the courage of a lion, Maisune has undertaken to wake us up to the killing of human life.

Now to some this may appear a political position. But it is much deeper than that.

This young leader, seasoned in Southern California, has felt the pain of death and violence. And she has seen that many do not understand that children are being killed.

And any child that is being exposed wantonly garners the support of this woman. She is the vanguard of the next generation that is raising our awareness and attempting to cross the chasm of cultural difference.

By pointing out that children are children, she is delivering to us a message that just might create the new global citizen.

The pain she feels is real and I feel it too. It’s not her pain; it’s not my pain; it belongs to all of us.

For when one child is killed, the pain is ours to share.

This past week I participated in a leadership learning experience with some of the most seasoned corporate executives I know.

One of my sessions was aimed at holding cultural difference and I learned how to count to three in Arabic. I also learned a few phrases and some common customs.

Those of us in the learning group sat on the floor as two facilitators taught us the beauty of a cultural custom that shows respect to all that sit with us.

We were all so moved that tears were shed as we saw another culture in an entirely new light. We were further exposed to the heart of this culture that valued us all.

I was so excited to get home and tell Maisune that I had learned the phrase ‘Ramadan Kareem’. This is a way of wishing a Muslim brother or sister love and wishes as they enter into a sacred part of their own sacred journey.

I still haven’t told her though I suspect she will know when she reads this.

And so in this world of mentor and learner many times the roles are not so easy to distinguish. I have been taken to the beautiful highs and the painful depths as seen in another culture only to find that it is the same in my own.

But here is the important part of the lesson. As a mentor to this young leader I claim and I support all of what she is doing.

She is waking us up. And she is one of mine and I fiercely embrace that.

I would shirk my duty not to say that it is so.

So here is my question to you.

To whom do you owe your support?
Where in your life have you been asked to lead or to follow?
And do you continue to deliver what you promised when you took on that responsibility?

If nothing else I am grateful to Maisune for delivering herself and never wavering. It is what she has been prepared to do.

How do I know? I’m one of the ones who helped.

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Published on July 19, 2014 02:05 • 21 views

June 25, 2014

In understanding the nature of finding your own true authentic story one must continually extend beyond unconscious conditioning. That is to say that we need to see what we have been taught not to see. I call this exercise “finding the deeper story.”

It promised to be a beautiful weekend and I had secured my cheap flight for a quick trip to Barcelona. I had always wanted to see the beautiful cathedral by Guadi and wander the streets eating Spanish seafood tapas.

My day had finally arrived.

It was better than I ever could have imagined.

My South American Spanish worked just fine. This was a place where stories could be had for the asking. Coffee shops, sidewalk restaurants, and old men sat on benches in an area called the Ramblas.

I am sure that most folks deemed a crazy Californian from the 60s roaming the streets in search of stories to be one nickel short of crazy. But that didn’t stop the undeniable surge that lived in me to hear every possible story I could find.

My favorite soccer player, Messi, played for the local team. And ceviche was as common as bottled water. This indeed was a place I could get used to.

As I sauntered out of my quaint hotel on a sunny Saturday morning I joined the bustle of the amazing streets. For those who know me well it should come as no surprise that I noticed all the beautiful dogs in the city.

Sure enough not five blocks from the hotel I noticed a beautiful German Shepherd sitting with a homeless woman propped against a wall. I stopped to ask if I could pet her dog. She nodded in the affirmative.

It was a wonderful moment with two beautiful beings.

In the bargain Maria, the dogs companion, received my entire pocketful of change. Now here in the US that might amount to $.92. But in Europe coins come in denominations of one, two and even five euros. She sheepishly offered to give me some back but I would have none of it.

To me emptying my pocket feels the same no matter the value of the coins.

As I prepared to leave she shared an interesting observation.

Maria told me that the normal resident and tourist could walk down the street and never even notice that she was there. She thanked me for noticing.

Something deeper tugged at me in that moment. I looked at her and thanked her for giving me a much deeper gift than money and even possibly be noticed.

I thanked her for letting me feel my heart.

While this seems like such a small story, it actually is a doorway to finding your own deepest rooting. By being able to look just a bit outside the normal way most of us see the street, I was able to enter into a deeper story. One that normally may have never even appeared.

The next time you’re in Barcelona or even the city you live in, take a look as you walk down the street. Consciously look for what you normally don’t include when walking on the street.

What have you learned to ignore?

Look at that!

Sound crazy? Try it and let me know.

I teach this exercise often. This is a practice that will take you to your own personal basement of authenticity.

And in so doing you will see your own deeper story.

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Published on June 25, 2014 09:01 • 11 views

May 29, 2014

It was a San Diego sunny day in early September not long ago. My family had been called to gather at a CoCo’s restaurant that had become my grandma’s favorite. She was turning 96 that day and the combination of mashed potatoes and a highball were compelling to that young girl who had endured prohibition.

As the oldest grandson, I had looked forward to that day, even though the dementia with which she wrestled moved ever closer to her doorstep. And up till now the heart of a young grand boy stood steadfastly in the love that we always shared.

As I entered the restaurant with my wife and daughter I spied a long table prepared for a family celebration. At the end sat my magnificent grandmother in her wheelchair with that smile that I knew as well as my own.

As I approached her to give her the normal kiss she looked into my eyes and said “Who are you?”

Without missing a stride I replied “I’m your grandson, Grandma.”

And like the crack of a pistol she replied “I don’t have a grandson.”

In the felt experience of standing in the living container of story, it is important to know when a marker has arisen.

Seeing the Marker

As I have reached the backend of a long and nourishing career I spend my days teaching the transformational nature of story. I often note that a story is simply a living container in which we all live our own plot lines.

In the felt experience of standing in the living container of story, it is important to know when a marker has arisen. A marker is simply a moment in which a distinction can be made which will give one a choice of story-lines that will follow.

My grandmother had delivered such a marker and I had recognized it as such.

You see, most folks who hold the sacred space of “oldest grandson” would have immediately sought to convince their grandmother that she did indeed have a grandson. And that would have been the normal and unconscious story that then would have proceeded to live in the emotional field of a 96th birthday party.

But something different happened on that beautiful September day.

Entering the Deeper Story

As I stood before her, in a split second a deeper recognition arose.

This was the woman who stood by as this three-year-old saw his first beloved elephant at the San Diego Zoo.

…our story had always been and would always be” right now”.

This was the woman who held my hand as I stood for the first time in the Pacific waves that grace our beaches.

This was the woman that made sure that the dairy man delivered a quart of chocolate milk every week for her beloved grandson.

In her mind and in her words she may not have conceived of what a grandson was in concept. But in her heart she had lived more moments than I can count in the service of that beloved boy.

And in that split second I replied to her “Grandma, you have a grandson now.”

And I watched as a recognition passed between the two of us that it never would matter when our story started or ended.

The fact of the matter was that our story had always been and would always be” right now.”

Finding Your Markers

This day has long nested in my own sense of story. It was an important moment not only for the obvious reasons, but because of the last great gift that leapt from that hallowed relationship.

I knew what a marker was and I knew that it called one to enter into the possibility of a deeper story.

So start to watch the markers as they pop up throughout the story that you call your life.

In the beginning the goal is simply to see them.

It’s from there, that the path of alive story begins to take root in your own life.


Photos from Flickr by Quinn Dombrowski, dr_zoidberg, Rennett Stowe, John Atherton, David Dennis, and Chris Betcher

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Published on May 29, 2014 01:48 • 15 views

May 7, 2014

It had been brutally hot in Southern California and I was worried about some of my homeless friends. So I hunted down O’side Mike, who generally takes care of the homeless folks here in Oceanside. I asked him if he would like to run out for a quick hamburger and a little conversation.

So off we went to our local dive.

Michael, or O’side Mike, as I call him is 10 days younger than I am. Were it not for major head trauma Mike would still be managing a supply chain for some major company in the United States. Michael and I revel in the same music and the same food and were raised in the same dusty California desert in the 60’s.

Our meetings are magic carpet rides back to that psychedelic era when Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix ruled the airwaves. And so a hamburger lunch is immediately transformed into a major event if Michael is present to share the meal.

As he sat down to eat, Mike began to explain to me how his life had really not amounted to very much. Of course, I see Mike as one of the most selfless human beings to have ever graced my life.

And so we began that famous discussion that old men engage often; what is the measure of a man?

As I leaned over my burger and fries I looked into his eyes and I told him

“Mike, you see one story in yourself and I see an entirely different version. Would you like to hear mine?”

He quietly nodded his head.

“Michael, the measure of a man is in the story that he actually lives.

Now I know that today is an incredibly hot day. And I also know that you didn’t eat last night and are incredibly hungry. I also know that you and a close friend are holed up in a concrete parking structure to take advantage of the cool cement.

And as I sit in front of you I noticed one more thing. As hungry as you are, you cut your burger in half and took half of the French fries and placed them in a to-go container. Now I know that half of your meal is headed to your close friend in a concrete parking structure nearby. Why? Because he didn’t eat last night either and is as hungry as you are.

As I sit here I believe that I am witnessing the measure of a true man… it’s in the story that you are living as you sit in front of me.

As I sit here I believe that I am witnessing the measure of a true man. You see, it’s in the story that you are living as you sit in front of me. You care more for your fellow man in one day than most folks do in an entire lifetime.

So what is your true story? Is it the equation you calculate in your head about your self-worth? Or is it the homeless man who in the embrace of hunger on the hottest day of the year carefully splits his meal to take care of someone else who also lives on the street?”

Your life and my life are simply happenings within a living container of story. The same things are present in every container.

But my question to you is…

What story do you see?

Is it the one that follows the mental calculus that demands that humans be thus and so?

Or is it the one that sees a homeless man care for another, despite the answer that his mathematical mental formula gave him?

What’s in a story? You are. And what is this you?

I don’t know.

Tell me your story.



photo taken by Joanne Fong via Flickr

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Published on May 07, 2014 02:09 • 20 views

April 9, 2014

It was 1958…

…and the world appeared as a black-and-white rerun of Leave it to Beaver. In fact, I was one of those children that could easily be found in any of those old sitcoms. I had just recently inherited a new father and we were living in Provo, Utah while he attended BYU. He had just figured out that engineering would not be his career choice and that he would downgrade his efforts into an accounting career. Of course, none of this made sense to a boy of my age.

Right outside the three-bedroom brick home that I inhabited with my parents and my little brother loomed a beautiful weeping willow. I would spend hours in that tree making up the stories that I would then proceed to live. But did I do this myself? No way. I had a secret ally hidden carefully in the house. And I could return at any time and tank up on story fuel and return to my beloved tree ready to change the world.

David Bleasdale, from Flickr

45 RPM

My mother had purchased an amazing machine for my 5th birthday. You can imagine that any quality item stood out in a family struggling to make it through college on the G.I. Bill. But my mom felt the need to invest in a 45-RPM phonograph so that her son could listen to the stories he loved so dearly.

Most people think that stories are things that we listen to and somehow hold as an object. But for me nothing could be further from the truth. My favorite 45 was the story of Peter and the Wolf. For those of you that don’t know the story, it takes place in the nether regions of snowy Russia. And in this story Peter, the hero, takes on an old grey wolf that has swallowed his beloved duck Sasha.

I can remember as though it were today, inhabiting and living that story. I could feel the snow, I could hear our duck and I knew exactly how Peter felt. In fact, had you asked me, I am not sure I could tell the difference between Peter and myself. The listening of Peter and the Wolf became more than a daily ritual in the life of a young child raised in the black-and-white entertainment of the 50s.

Story itself is simply a living container in which we all stand. And if that is true, then changing the world is simply an exercise in changing its story.

As an adult I have spent the majority of my career seeking experience. Something deep inside me has always advised that experience is more profound than any commentary or reflection that it might generate. Standing in possibility has been the driver of an entire lifetime. And now the revelation that experience is simply an extension of a 5-year-old living the story of Peter and the Wolf is clear. Story itself is simply a living container in which we all stand. And if that is true, then changing the world is simply an exercise in changing its story. But what could be holding us back?

Story Theory

As Adults we have learned that we should stand in some distance to the stories that surround us. There is no doubt a beauty in that understanding, however, most adults have abdicated a cherished possibility in order to stand at that distance.

What is that possibility?

It’s the clear understanding that all change and all possibility exist within the container of story. And to execute that change within that sense of possibility one must also firmly stand within the container.

In Zen language, one has to be the story.

Our entire life we struggle to onboard distinctions that will be useful to us as we live our apparent life. But if all we do is onboard intelligent distinction but never enter back into our living story, what have we really done?

As adults we should be able to say that all the particulars of our story are a true felt experience. Much like that little boy, we should know the smell of a wolf, the coldness of Russian snow, and the sound of our dearest friend Sasha when she is in the belly of the Wolf.

What would our life look like if we indeed inhabited the stories in which we actually stand, rather than look at them from afar?
Would that change the outcomes?
Would it change the approaches?
Would it change how we feel about others when we actually recognized that they inhabited our story as well?
In fact would we be able to tell them from us?

These are the questions that make up what I have dubbed as Story Theory. How powerful can living story be in our life? Can it be taught? These thoughts among others are the ones that swirl in the Russian forest in the mind of the “black-and-white kid” from the 50s.

Wolf photo taken by Eric Kilby via Flickr, 45 RPM by David Bleasdale via Flickr

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Published on April 09, 2014 02:00 • 18 views

March 17, 2014

Many of you know that I have been very involved in the launch of a new project called Globalish.  Well, the big day is beginning to arrive.  The website is now in beta release and we are moving closer to our vision.  For those who want a sneak peek, here is a link to our first media channel:

The Leadership Model

Yesterday Michael, our beloved captain of the ship, triggered me to write what I thought was the essence of who we are. Of course, in my normal authoritative manner I wrote a moving definition. It went like this:

Globalish is a community dedicated to awareness and action. It is international and appeals to our new emerging world. It will penetrate arising themes such as global change, travel, artistic creativity and just plain friendship. Our vision is that the Globalish living story will create Global Citizens that embrace the planet we are becoming. We will be aware, passionate and heartful. We will cross all generations as our new tribe makes its presence felt in a world that is kicking the doors down to broaden its humanity.

Where’s the Story?

And then I realized, the verbiage was beautiful and even from the heart, but just a description nonetheless.

Isn’t it me who challenges and invites folks into the deepest sense of story?

Aren’t I the guy who relentlessly repeats that all conceptual models are but a distant glimmering of the alive story? That all models nest in the living container of the story that they represent?

Yep, that would be me. So while Michael was happy with my prose, I knew the deeper story beckoned. So here it is.


Michael and I share many things that unite us in our call to service. One of these is a deep concern for our underserved homeless brothers and sisters who live in our local communities. So, when I make it up to Los Angeles, Michael and I volunteer to serve food and deliver warm blankets to people living in Skid Row.

It is a humbling experience to stand on that street and talk sports with the boys and girls that live on that patch of concrete.

And it doesn’t end there. Here’s the story I live on a daily basis.

Right outside my home in Oceanside, California, many of the local homeless are my dear friends. I find blankets, sleeping bags and other needed resources when it gets cold.  I provide food and water. The local Starbucks even gives me coffee drinks made by mistake to take to the O’side family.

Teaching Each Other

And as luck would have it, some months ago I met a wonderful man named Mike who helps me get support to those who need it. Now Mike is a fellow who once was a respected corporate executive. But a traumatic head injury eliminated his capability to play that role.

Make no mistake, however, he still holds the presence of the seasoned executive that knows how to get things done. And he is the unelected caretaker on the streets where I walk every day.

One day recently, I told O’side Mike about my travels to Skid Row in LA. He was intensely interested and when I had finished the story he had one thing to ask. “Alan,” he said, “the next time you go to Skid Row, could you take me with you?” I was sure I had heard wrong.  “What?” I said. He chuckled and repeated himself.  And then he added,

What makes you think that being homeless excuses me from the responsibility to all my family that is homeless with me?

 With tears in my eyes there was no need to answer.

Power of Story

Many of us would call this “leadership” or some other fancy ass term that could never touch this moment. But let me tell you what I call it.

It’s Globalish. 

It’s the heart of an entire set of generations on our planet looking for their collective self. All of us want to stand in the story of our real self. In this way, we are all homeless until the day we can all finally gather around a single hearth.


So, the next time someone asks me what Globalish is, they’re not going to get a definition filled with sophisticated high tech or leadership terminology. No.

They’re going to hear the story of O’side Mike and his pure impulse to serve the people of Skid Row.

This is the power of story. You stand in it. You breathe it. The possibility of who you are and who we will all become is alive in this very container.

The next time you seek to serve, ask yourself, “Did I deliver the highest possibility of who I am?”  How will you know the answer? Everybody is homeless…not just the homeless that live outdoors. You will know if you delivered the story that makes you want to serve everybody who is homeless with you.


photo taken by Clotee Allochuku via Flickr

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Published on March 17, 2014 03:00 • 20 views

February 20, 2014

As you all know by now, I was blessed with a Grandpa extraordinaire. Yes, he had a wonderful resume and was admired for his many achievements. But to me–the oldest grandson, he was my compadre in the many adventures we had together. He would fill my imagination with the stuff of fairy tales and send me off to be the hero in every story. To this day I can remember waiting like a puppy dog at the back door for that moment that he would burst through the door.

My grandma some years later would tell me that he rarely arrived home a minute late in those days. And as he came through the door we would excitedly begin our plans. How much time before dinner and which foreign land would we conquer? And when we did what games would we play with our new friends? We didn’t really conquer places, we infected them with our humor and big plans. Grandpa and I had that effect on folks and with him at my side, we could make smiles happen.

All of us have been given the birthright of story since we were young

I am sure about now you are asking yourself, “What does this have to do with leadership and such?”

I used to ask questions like that. And then it dawned on me. 

All of us have been given the birthright of story since we were young. Our stories were lived fiercely and we felt them large. Then some time along the way we learned that we needed to get serious and grow up. We began to speak in big words and use intellectual models as shorthand for the simplicity of life around us. And when we would hear one of those childhood stories we would discard it from our attention as not complicated enough to really count.

Some years ago as I sat in a conference room full of CEOs, we were asked to name the most powerful attribute of each executive at the table. I was only 31 at the time and I am sure that I hadn’t developed such a thing in the eyes of these great leaders. As it came time to name mine, one of the guys reluctantly volunteered,

Alan’s greatest attribute is the ability to make the obvious more so

And with a chuckle and relief, the exercise continued on.

Today, as a much older man, I often think of that moment. You see, that guy was right. That is truly a gift.

We know that in the stories we all hold lies the creative imagination that wants to serve the communities to which we all belong.

My job these days is to teach executives how to develop the acumen and presence to lead large companies. These entities provide a living for tens of thousands of employees. And these folks and their families, people we know, depend on the leadership of these executives.

And what do I teach them? I teach them to tell stories from the basement of their souls the same way my Grandpa taught me. Simple and direct are the stories we weave. We try to see the obvious and make it more so. We know that in the stories we all hold lies the creative imagination that wants to serve the communities to which we all belong.

Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But I know if they can share the field of play, like my Grandfather did, the possibilities are endless. In my mind’s eye, the warrior children and heroes of stories must find the wise men and women in every generation.

Where are they?

It’s obvious. They are at the wisdom pond. That’s the place you go when you need that new story that will create the sense of possibility you know is being called. And as you arrive at the pond you notice that you need to pick up your bucket and fill it with story water from the pond.

But how will you know where and how much?

Some of it is cold and some hot. Some is blue and some greenish and even aqua. And then you spy in the back of the pond the old wise men and women of your village. And they seem to know where to find the perfect story. And they show you not only the water but how to get it into your pail. You see, they too, used to be the young movers and shakers of the tribe. And in their humorous smile, and shaking of their head, they pass on to you the secret to infect kingdoms far and wide.

In my mind’s eye, the warrior children and heroes of stories must find the wise men and women in every generation.

Why would I write a story like this? 

Because it’s now my time at the back of the pond. And I am a bit worried. In our new age of Twitter, texts, and Facebook friends we seem to have lost our buckets. In fact, we don’t seem to know where the pond is anymore. We actually think that reading a screen is the same as feeling the water of wisdom drip from the bucket down our arms and onto our hands. We seem to have forgotten that presence is real. Oh sure, there is always Skype for that real connection. Really? Have you ever thrown popcorn at your favorite friend on Skype? How long did it take him to clean it up?

My Grandpa had it right. You rush home to be in presence with your grandson. Why? Because he is the hope for the kind of future that the infection of possibility can deliver. And he needs to be in your presence to feel the water of wisdom pour out of your stories.

It’s now up to us to show folks where to find the pond and how to dip the bucket.

This is not written to whine about the current generation…blah,blah,blah. This is a call to those who know where the pond is, to begin to step into their destiny. It’s now up to us to show folks where to find the pond and how to dip the bucket. And that requires that we are in presence, and that we share our stories. It’s not necessary to lose our birthright. We are part of a generation that dreamt big. In fact, we still dream big. Now we just have to share that ability with those we love.

Every day as I walk into the daunting corporate offices of today, I see grandsons and granddaughters waiting to hear the stories that will help them find wisdom. I have become my grandfather and so have you.

Are you in?

Photo taken by Dave Wilkie via Flickr

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Published on February 20, 2014 20:51 • 20 views

January 17, 2014

It had been a five long days and I was exhausted.

Thirty-two high potential executives had gathered in a Leadership Institute to compete in teams. They had built business cases and presented them to the CEO and operating committee of the company. And this wasn’t a practice case. No, they were given a hot issue within the company and the company’s executives were listening for real answers.

This was an exercise with ‘live ammunition’ so to speak.

What sets this process apart from most leadership exercises is the experiential demand nobody can escape. Each team is given a smattering of information and the group must maximize itself, calling on the combined talents of the team.

Note: This isn’t an exercise for individuals seeking personal glory. This is a team sport and collaboration consistently shows itself in the presentations.

And now the event had finished. The winning team had been announced and duly congratulated. The company had received innovative possibilities that could be placed into action. And the most exciting outcome was that each team had created the magic that only comes when an entire group brings its ‘A’ game.

What more could be said?

It turns out there was one essential piece.

The CEO of the company asked if he could contribute an insight. He clearly had a concern.

And here it was: Would this group of leaders take this magic back to their respective business units?

He asked us to think of all the amazing experiences we had over the years in breakthrough processes. And then he noted that it was normal to go back to our regular business only to find that weeks later the magic of team had disappeared. As I scanned the room all I could see was the nodding of heads in agreement.

Living life in the fishbowl

Everyone knew the loop-first a breakthrough and then the distant memory of something great that somehow didn’t survive the home environment.

And then he told the story:

Life, you see, is like living in a fishbowl. We all move through our home waters with the style that we all have cultured. In the beginning, we have great ideas about how to change our fishbowl. But the school of fish, to which we belong, make sure that the waters are obscured so that new and shiny ideas really aren’t seen all that well.

How do they do this? Easy. Everything good or bad happens all in the same bowl. We eat, sleep and, yes, even poop in our bowls. And over time we become accustomed to moving through our own bowls and even swimming in poop. In fact we are so used to our own poop we don’t even notice it’s there. And the band of fish we call our own dedicate themselves to keeping the environment exactly as it is. In fact, you will often hear the refrain, ”we live in the best fishbowl of all bowls. You may think that our waters aren’t clean and clear, but this is the best it can be.”

And with this, the merry band of fish dedicates their efforts to keeping things the way they are, poop and all.

But every now and then a fish or two are invited to a different bowl with clean water where the vision really is exquisite. They proceed to make themselves shiny and clean. And they are excited by their new discovery. They want to live in this new possibility and even share it with the fish from their very own family. And so they return as a single fish with something to contribute to the bowl. But this has happened many times and all the home fish know that the new shiny fish have to dragged through the always existing poop smog until they have but a distant memory of change and the like.

So what’s a fish to do?

All of us everyday operate under own unseen assumptions. And like our fish cousins, we have swept our moments of discovery and shininess away in favor of a poop sandwich. But now we know the story. We also know what’s waiting for us when we emerge from magic experiences all shiny and clean.

“It is in the awareness of knowing the difference and keeping it present that we will be able to share the magic with those that matter in our fish tribe.

This CEO had given us the capstone of awareness as the anchoring we would need to return in a new way to the environment we often leave behind.

And so I wonder: Are you swimming in poop? Do you fully realize that is the case? And, if so, what is your new awareness that will help you become the shiny fish?


Photo taken by Mr. T in DC via Flickr

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Published on January 17, 2014 09:28 • 31 views

December 31, 2013

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.


Before we ring in the new year, I’d love to share some of my favorite posts over the past year. I am really proud of these in particular and I want to truly thank you all for your kind words in the comments section, via email or simply the act of love in sharing them to your networks.

And now on to the next.

The Secret to Coaching Knowing the Game is Lost (The Corporate Way)

a basketball coach in a huddle with his players

What would change if companies invested resources to increase performance based on game time coaching? And what has to change for companies to see that the sports world has cracked a code that could help us all?

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What a Sufi Mystic Can Teach You About Corporate Development

How a Sufi mystic can teach corporate development

In our leadership and corporate world today we have the predilection to build sophisticated and complicated models that many times covers up the simplicity that lies below. And that’s where a story can come in handy.

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Climbing Out Of The Hole: Motivation vs Inspiration in Leadership

climb out of the hole and become inspired

Over the years I have noticed an important difference between motivation and inspiration in life and leadership development. In simple terms, motivation is a boost that we seek from the outside while inspiration is born of the passion that is our birthright.

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How To Find Your Core Story in Corporatelandia

find your core story in corporatelandia

When, in your career, have you taken the chance to tell something meaningful that lives in you, rather than a story that you picked for a desired effect?

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No Posers Allowed In A Globalish Society

vans brand promotes authenticity

For me there is only one basic driver of human experience: authenticity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s corporate acumen or awakened leadership.

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When Misfits Have Children: Boomers & Millenials, Pts. 1

boomer millennial manifest image

In response to a request to write a piece on mentoring the Millennials based on the hero’s journey of the sixties, I wrote this piece. This was my favorite writing since my book. My goal is twofold. If you are a Millennial hot on the trail of injustice and redefining our culture, then I cheer you on and salute you in this Hero’s journey. If you are a boomer, then stand with me and give these brave new warriors and goddesses any wisdom you can. For those who don’t know which group you are in, pick one.

Read more  [Part 2]  [Part 3]

Running on Empty: Boomers and Aging


Most of us who grew up in the 60’s remember that moment when the strains of the Jackson Browne tune “Running on Empty” drifted into our young life. Of course, most of us felt that living life, two hands at a time, was a young man’s game. And we paid attention to that message as one that reflected the possibility of a generation gone bankrupt. However, as we are called to a different role in life as elders, that hold a lifetime of wisdom, somehow we can get to that treasure which we know is there. Why is it that the boomer generation isn’t the treasure trove and storehouse of wisdom that previous generations have reflected?

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The Art of Living Your Hero’s Journey

heider-simmel experiment

This is was a fun piece to put together. Try this little experiment!

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images by Tom Collins, j.sutt, onecog2many, hiroaki hirano, Marianne O’Leary

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Published on December 31, 2013 15:27 • 43 views

Each year around now, I get nostalgic and like to think of all I’ve accomplished over the course of the year. Did I get more done than the previous year? The same? Less?

The truth is it doesn’t matter. The beauty of life is that you’re still living it. As Lennon said, “tomorrow never knows” and it is in that notion that true happiness can be had.

Be thankful that you made it to where you are now.

Be honest to those you may have lied to in the past.

Be loving to the people that mean more to you than yourself.

Be assertive in your decisions and choices.

Be aware of something bigger than yourself.

Be imperfect.

Be present.

Just be.


Happy New Year’s everyone!


image taken by Lynn Friedman via Flickr

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Published on December 31, 2013 08:29 • 33 views