Tag Archives: Pat McHenry Sullivan

Need a Compelling Vision? Start with the Anti-Vision

hospital bed, shutterstock

Your creative, visionary self thrives on juicy details, but if you are like most people over the age of five, it’s practically impossible to specify a vision of what you want to create. Yet it’s easy to be very clear about what you don’t want.

My husband and I built on this principle when we named our fears before trying to write an advance health care directive so the best possible people know what we want and can speak for us when we can’t speak for ourselves. The creativity that emerged from detailing our fears led to a powerful support system that helps us thrive in sickness and in health.

What we learned can be applied to any dream or challenge, whatever your age. Continue reading

Lost Your Genius? If So, What Have You Lost?

Art by Andrea, see source below

Art by Andrea, see source below

You probably have lost access to much of the brilliance you had when you were a child. Numerous tests show that 90-98% of children register genius level abilities to think of many possibilities. Only 2% of adults are so smart.

I’ve not found statistics on the loss of access to curiosity, intuition, instincts, sensory awareness, awe, playfulness and other gifts so potent I call them elements of genius. But hundreds of interviews with adults have shown that even if we can’t remember enjoying these gifts or know how to use them now, we can see them in young children. Continue reading

Lost Your Genius?

Art by Andrea, see source below

Art by Andrea, see source below

You probably have lost access to much of the brilliance you had when you were a child. Numerous tests show that 90-98% of children register genius level abilities to think of many possibilities. Only 2% of adults are so smart.

I’ve not found statistics on the loss of access to curiosity, intuition, instincts, sensory awareness, awe, playfulness and other gifts so potent I call them elements of genius. But hundreds of interviews with adults have shown that even if we can’t remember enjoying these gifts or know how to use them now, we can see them in young children.

Why call childhood brilliance “elements of genius?”

Childhood brilliance certainly doesn’t fit current definitions of genius as super-IQ or stratospheric expression of talents.

Ancient definitions of genius and cutting edge wisdom give a better picture of our potential. My husband’s beloved Latin dictionary (1996 version) by John Traupman, Ph.D. defines genius as three things we could interpret today as 1) trustworthy guidance; 2) natural appetites and inclinations that came in our DNA, and 3) our talents.

Here’s how it works. Curiosity, our senses and other forms of natural brilliance constantly gather information which our internal guidance system uses to guide us to our best life and work. Talents are engaged and stretched in every stage of the process.

Genius Benefit 1 — Trustworthy Guidance

The ancients saw guidance as coming from a “guardian spirit,” the muse, or sometimes the genie. Today, we have a myriad of ways to be guided to live our best lives and do our best work.

Michael Meade says that everyone has innate genius, which is about “each person’s unique way of perceiving the world and unusual way of expressing themselves in it. There can be no end to the shapes and sizes of human genius. When it comes to personal genius, the point is not to compare oneself with others as much as to find the unique form and shape that genius takes in one’s own soul.”

43 years of working with human potential have shown me how many of us were trained out of our best ways to perceive the world and express ourselves, particularly after we went to school, our brain developed, and we learned how to compare ourselves and come up lacking.

Genius Benefit 2: Trustworthy Information from Multiple Sources.

The ancients’ second definition of genius was the “personification of natural appetites, natural inclinations.” This I see as the elements of genius or natural genius.

Buckminster Fuller wrote over 30 years ago that, “Children are interested in everything and are forever embarrassing their specialized parents by the wholeness of their interests. Children demonstrate right from the beginning that their genes are organized to help them to apprehend, comprehend, coordinate, and employ—in all directions. …

“Every child is born a genius, but is swiftly degeniused by unwitting humans and/or physically unfavorable environmental factors.”

Without the information that comes only from our best innate gifts, it’s practically impossible to envision and create adult life and work full of integrity, purpose and joy. That means it’s impossible to recognize or create trustworthy guidance.  No wonder so many of us get stuck in unimaginative, same-old, limited non-solutions to pressing problems!

Genius Benefit 3: Talents

One of the most beloved promoters of talents is Barbara Sher, author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was and other best-sellers. She says, “What you love is what you’re gifted at. Your talent is coded into your genes … The only way to feel satisfied is to listen to your own nature; in other words, to do what you were born to do.”

Sher teaches that you can always ally with others who have talents you lack. She’s adamant that you don’t have to be already good at something to have a talent, though she is also very practical and realistic. She tells of a self-professed lousy singer whose dream was to sing opera. By daring to play with this dream, Sher’s client discovered her truer passion for turning friends and others on to her love of opera. That’s so doable!

The more I study the elements of genius, the more I see those also as talents. Say you have a talent for composing music which didn’t explode out of your DNA when you were very young. Instead, composing music comes from the interplay over time of talents for listening, imagination, self-expression and all the ways we discover, “I love and am fascinated by this” versus, “I am bored by that.” All the white the inner guide is inspiring, motivating and guiding you to follow your fascinations in spite of others’ negative comments.

Why You May Have Lost Your Genius

Everyone’s story is unique, but here are some common themes:

  • Others thought they knew best who you are and what you are called to do with your one precious life
  • It was too dangerous (or at least felt too dangerous) to listen to your inner voice and express yourself when you were young.
  • You got too wrapped up in the challenges and demands of growing up to protect and grow up your gifts.
  • The playground, school and other group settings were sources of competition and humiliation, so you withdrew or did your best to fit in, no matter the cost.
  • You were not taught to discover many ways to receive inspiration or focus a compelling vision to meet any problem.
  • You didn’t learn basic design or planning skills so you could bring your ideas into concrete form.

The result now: you block, distort or ignore inspiration and information that could be really useful. You get stuck in same-old supposed solutions. You don’t do your best thinking and you don’t get your best results.

Miss Your Lost Genius?

Fortunately, it’s surprisingly easy and delightful to bring back lost childhood brilliance. Future posts will offer many ideas.

Now, please explore the resources section of www.geniusagain.com, particularly the FAQS, tips on how to find visions for your life and work, and visioning lessons from the multi-talented Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer.

Comments and ideas are welcome. What’s now missing for you? How have you lost those gifts? How have you kept alive or reclaimed other gifts? What advice do you have for others?

 

About the art:  thanks to Andrea, on a Creative Commons license.

Building Your Workday Around Prayer: Guest Post by John Sullivan

Monastic life in all faiths is ordered around prayer. Such prayer sets the rhythm for each day. It keeps members focused on the mission of the order and the life of the community, as well as the spiritual life of each member.

I spent 13 years in the Discalced Carmelite monastic order, which traces its origins to hermits living on Mt. Carmel in the 13th century. As is the case with most religious orders, the Discalced Carmelites prayed together at least six times a day on a regular schedule, using Latin names for the hours. These were also known as Canonical hours, because they have been used by all orders in the Roman Catholic Church for many centuries.

As our Muslim friends have so ably demonstrated, prayer can also provide the framework for secular life, including busy workdays. Inspired by what I learned in the monastery and from the example of Muslims, I adapted the canonical hours to my spiritual practices. Continue reading

Real Spiritual Practices for Real Lives, Real Work and Money Challenges: by Guest Blogger Kimberly Weichel

In a recent post, guest blogger Tricia Malloy wrote: “To me, a spiritual practice is any routine or ritual that connects you to your inner wisdom and helps you be less stressed and fearful and more positive, focused and productive. It’s often how you communicate with your subconscious mind. It may or may not relate to any religion or belief.”

Over the years, I’ve integrated many spiritual practices into my life and work: meditating, taking a moment of silence, being grateful, walking, visualizing, spending time in nature, or journaling. Some of these practices I learned from others; some I invented or adapted. All have led to rich and sometimes surprising insights for work, money and the rest of life — provided they fit my life, not some idealized notion of what the spiritual life ought to be. Continue reading

Creating a Culture of Integrity for Work and Money

If all the expensive fallout from corporate, political or other shenanigans could be traced to a few greedy rotten apples, then it should be easy for all us good, non-greedy apples to toss out the rest.

But greed is just one variety of fraud, waste and abuse that have long been rampant in our world. All are supported by a culture that makes it equally hard to confront wrong-doing or to envision a culture based on honesty, sustainability, and compassion. Continue reading

Getting Back into the Stream of Spirited Work and Life

Yes, it’s been a while since I last blogged. An overload of work has made workdays extra long and my blogging time minimal. The death of a friend across country interrupted the work flow and made me more keenly aware of how short and precious life is. Reconnections with old friends and family there make me feel sad that I’ve missed so much by being too little in their fascinating lives, yet hopeful about the possibilities for richer friendships.

Never has it been more obvious that real life can’t be broken into categories such as work, life, money, children or fun. Everything important always happens right when we’re smack dab in the middle of seeming contradictory challenges. How to do the tasks that need to be done versus the work our soul calls us to? How to find time to mourn and reflect in the midst of work that needs to be done and life that needs to be lived right now? How to follow one calling, complete one task, when there are dozens or hundreds or thousands to be done? Continue reading

Meaning: A Really Practical Application for Money, Work and Business

If you believe that the meaning of life has no practical business, work or financial application, you’ve got a lot of company. Yet there’s a huge body of evidence, even among top business and professional publications, that meaning and other “soft” stuff can be the catalyst for solving some of the most pressing worldly problems. meaning-of-life-cartoon Continue reading