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Financial Crisis and the Speed of the Zone

June 15, 2010

For many people, the financial crisis has caused a paralyzing amount of fear. A question on many people’s minds is how to cope with this gripping emotional state at a time when action is necessary. Perhaps this is the most relevant conversation as our emotional state is what determines the speed at which we are able to take action.   Also, it is our emotional state that determines the accuracy of our perception and the mind’s ability to solve complex problems.  At this very moment, the pace of communication and information is accelerating at incomprehensible multiples.

The emotional state of fear will have us wanting to slow down, or even stop.  In the financial world, this translates to “wait and see,” “panic and sell,” “follow the crowd,” “run and hide,” “shame and be shamed,” “blame and justify,” “judge and be judged.”  The mass fear is palpable and unbearable to be around, and the results are showing up in the markets, the media and everywhere.

The solution to this is to get in a different state, where we can move faster, make better decisions, and keep ourselves from being sucked into the vacuum of fear, like particles in space into a massive black hole.  In order to do this, we have to step back and observe, speed up and change, and take the actions without hesitation.  Buy great opportunities and resist selling those that will recover. History will prove that even though the market hibernates like a bear, it does make room for the bull sooner or later.  This is the time to be bold and resilient and the internal state of fear is our enemy.

Below is an article I wrote in 2004 about the speed of the zone, for a group of leaders that I was working with.

The zone in sports is that magical moment when an athlete is totally connected to winning, physiologically and psychologically, and releasing chemicals that enhance the state.  This emotional state takes us into a different reality beyond fear and into bliss.  Everything is optimized and enhanced.  I feel understanding this zone is a key to moving past the fear and into action again.

The Speed Of The Zone (copy of original article written in 2004)

Thank you for your courage and commitment to this journey that we share together, which can be very personal and alone sometimes. I have written about “the speed of the Zone” to support you in your understanding of what you have available to you.

The Zone is a very magical space; even though it can seem graceful and slow from the outside, it is actually moving very fast. What does this mean?

As we move up the zones the speed increases exponentially. What this means is that the feeling of each zone is dramatically different. As you move in your own personal journey up the zones you will hit invisible walls. This can feel uncomfortable and will have you plotting against yourself to move back into a lower zone that is more comfortable. We call this your havingness, or upper-limit. I will discuss more about this later but for now let me explain the speed of the Zone.

The important thing is that you will adjust and adapt and then it does get more comfortable again. However, in the middle of the adjustment it can feel confusing. Let‘s begin by understanding the context of the personal journey you are on as a Leader.

The Personal Journey

The voice of your Spiritual-Self compels you to let go of your comfort zone and embark on a personal journey that seems to have no limits, no restrictions and no end. In a life driven by goals, achievements and deadlines, this voice is seldom convenient, comfortable or timely. And yet when it’s time, the spirit moves quickly and ruthlessly like a storm from which you cannot protect yourself and there is no place to hide. The only solution is to stop the struggle and surrender to your spirit. Your spirit is much faster than your ego.

In a world of accelerating acceleration, where change is unpredictable, and complexity is growing at levels that are becoming evermore challenging, your ability to adapt must transcend previous limits in order to survive. You are on a personal journey, a quest for meaning, an evolution that takes you from your social act to your authentic self, from specialist to generalist, from dominance to partnership, from competitive to cooperative, from fragmented to integrated, from an ego-centered person to a comprehensive, whole, spiritual being.

You are for the first time making room in your life for spirit and ego to walk in partnership, side by side, each making peace with the needs of the other.

From Surviving To Thriving

Human beings are complex and evolving beings, who thrive on problem solving, adding value and contributing to others; once survival is handled you are fulfilled only by things that move your heart and challenge your mind.

“It is not the strongest nor most intelligent of species that survives; it is the one most adaptable to change.

- Charles Darwin

Change is something that requires action and is, by its very nature, not a passive energy, but rather an energy that has force. This force is required to take action from a lower zone because there has to be a dramatic increase in energy. Not only is more energy required as you move up the zones but also more velocity or speed. Things happen faster, and more powerfully. At first this can feel draining and tiring, but as you adapt you begin to have more energy and power available to you. This is the same as someone learning to run their first marathon. It takes persistence, determination and commitment. The body has to adapt physically and they have to increase the distance in incremental steps, not run the whole distance the first day.

Let me explain through an analogy from a story.

A Clue From The Red Queen

For Alice, in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” advice from The Red Queen is that “in this place it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

“Through the Looking Glass,” is the imaginary life of a young girl who, while playing the game of chess, walks through a mirror into another reality where the pieces of the chess game become giant and real, and The Red Queen is showing Alice the way. This statement inspired Evolutionary Biologist L. Van Valen to come up with a principle called the “The Red Queen Principle” which states that “for an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with.” The evolution here is in our consciousness, our collective knowledge and how we individually operate within this.

The zones are the equivalent to our own personal evolution as human beings. Only the whole thing is happening in one life and not over millions of years.

Understanding The Landscape

Like Alice in “Through the Looking Glass,” understanding what it takes to thrive in the Zone begins with looking into the mirror, and stepping into a future reality that is at present a possibility only as surreal as the room inside Alice’s mirror. Where things are operating differently than you know, the rules are different, the players are different, and everything is unpredictable, outside your current concept of time and space.

Let’s imagine the world inside the mirror, which on the surface looks similar, and yet everything is on different sides. Things that were on your right are now on the left, the sizes and proportions are constantly changing as you walk in. To see further into the mirror, you have to literally step past your current limitations. In the story, Alice is a self-centered girl who is insensitive to her cats and to her sister has an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons. Her journey begins after she steps out of the room in the mirror (her previous limits), and steps into the landscape outside and is joined by the Red Queen (who has transformed from a few inches tall on Alice’s chessboard to a full size woman, taller than Alice. She looks over the hills and sees that everything is divided into squares, like her chessboard and realizes she is in the game. The queen is showing her the way and, they have been moving very fast and take a break when:

Alice looked round her in great surprise. “Why, I do believe we’ve been under this tree the whole time! Everything’s just as it was!”

“Of course it is,’ said the Queen, `what would you have it?”

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

A New Reality

This dialogue is a great analogy of the world you are stepping into, fast and unpredictable and where the rules feel as different as a reality without gravity. This is the context of the “The Red Queen Principle” where running is an analogy for adaptation to the environment. Using the characteristics that you developed to achieve success in the past, the ACT will only manage to keep you at the same place even if you are playing at full speed. So what will it take to achieve success in the future? The single word answer is CHANGE.

This is your individual ability to change and re-invent yourself, to adapt to the new rules of the game. Literally going from mono-dimensional thinking to multi-dimensional thinking. Imagine that the two-dimensional chess board now surrounds you, you are in it and the pieces have come to life, and you can move in ways you do not understand from your current perspective.

The challenge presented to Alice is “If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” On a purely physical level, the fastest runners in the world are not twice as fast as their peers, only milliseconds faster. The change that is required is in the way that you perceive, think, and respond, not a physical adaptation that would take many life spans to accomplish.

You have been thinking and responding to a slow world and the Zone is like another reality and nothing in your past can prepare you for this. The Zone requires all of you to be present in the NOW!!

Remember the Zone is an ideal that we are always reaching for and there is no limit, no end. However by reaching for Goldzone we will surely live above the line in Greenzone and Bluezone and sometimes Goldzone.

To Your Goldzone!

Anjou MacPherson
Co-founder
Goldzone Education

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Financial Crisis: What to Say to Your Loved Ones

March 17, 2009

Many people have their self-worth hardwired to their net-worth. I referred to this phenomenon in Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay.  Perhaps this is the single biggest reason it is a good idea to build a glass tower around yourself in the first place. So, what happens when the waves of impact touch your reality and this tower is about to blow apart from the tension, shattering everything within its shadow?

For those of us that are fortunate enough to free ourselves from this thought form, it is easier perhaps to keep our sense of self and our self-worth in tact as these waves impact our net-worth. This is not easy, not comfortable, not separate from the tension, and not immune from the judgments of others.   Rather, it is perhaps more objective in the way we are able to view ourselves through the process.

Psychiatrists and psychologists report that 80% of their clients who are seeing them for stress related issues are stressed the most about finances and the economy.

Chronic stress leads to many physical problems, and some of these are life threatening. The way you manage this emotionally is everything. BBC News reports that the wealthiest people have been impacted in “Rich List Hit by Economic Crisis” http://budurl.com/64e6.  It states, “The financial crisis is taking its toll on the world’s richest people, wiping 332 names off Forbes magazine’s ‘rich list’ of world billionaires.” This represents about one-third of the list and the average loss for those that remain is 23% of their net-worth. Only 5.5% of those remaining on the list increased their income over the past year.

This is truly a reversal of fortune.

How do you communicate to spouses, life partners, children, parents, friends and family what is going on? How do you reassure those that are close to you in the middle of such uncertain and volatile circumstances? It’s challenging, especially when you need reassurance, too!

How do you cope when those closest to you failing to stand by you in your moment of vulnerability when they are used to leaning on you?

How do you communicate the truth without scaring and terrorizing the people around you, when you have been bred to be silent or angry when things are not right? What do you do when they only know you as the provider, the hero, the one who is strong? What happens if everyone close to you has abdicated financial responsibility to you and you have taken it, leaving him or her powerless to fend for himself or herself in this area?

Step one is to re-build, re-negotiate and redeem these relationships from the foundation of who you are, separate from your net-worth. Establish your self-worth as being most important, and free from the highs and lows of the marketplace.

Truthful, honest communication requires a quiet confidence that allows you to be authentic and natural, safe and secure like an oasis in the middle of a dry desert. The challenge is that if your self-worth is hardwired to your net-worth then you will feel ashamed and fearful, and these feelings will suppress your expression, your truth and your spirit.

The other option is for you to get frustrated and angry and this will cause you to be over-expressed and reactive. Regardless of the words you say, the positive attitude you force upon yourself and the feeling you exude is what people respond to. Your feelings are what creates the oasis, the re-assurance and the support. Your feelings are what allow those you are used to supporting to either support you or abandon you as quickly as your cash.

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay: What Is the Quest?

February 27, 2009

I was going throughdubaipaster my travel photographs and saw this picture of a poster at the Dubai Airport advertising the world’s tallest building, which was under construction at the time. The Burj Dubai is very impressive and I was inspired to write more about the towers of glass.

I love beautiful, expansive and extraordinary things and am a patron of the arts. Architecture is particularly captivating because of its ability to inspire and uplift. My title is only an analogy and not meant in any way to be critical of any building.

My personal observation about many banks, hotels, and companies that own these towers is that the public areas are grand, beautiful and spacious, whereas the back of the house where the employees work tend to be relatively ordinary and in many cases dingy and unattractive.

Let’s continue the conversation about Towers Of Glass, Feet Of Clay — particularly our response to external circumstances, as the waves of impact wash over us.

Many people are being tested to the core and have a rare opportunity to re-evaluate what is real and what is illusion. We have to decide, “What is important to us?” and “What we are willing to let go?” “Which relationships are here for the long haul?” and “Which ones are superficial?”

It is time to reflect so that the inside can be as beautiful and tall as the outside.

Nearly everyone will agree to this in concept, yet not everyone is willing to invest the time, energy and money that beautifying the inside requires. Don’t get me wrong.  I am not referring to a religion or any particular philosophy, but rather a journey that all leaders take in the process of leading. Those who know, know… as we share a common experience.

We call this common experience the Quest:

The essence of the Quest is where you leave your comfort zone, known reality, sense of security, and attachments and step into the unknown to discover your true-nature, destiny, unique gifts, qualities and virtues. It is only when you leave your comfort zone that you run into your limits.

During your journey to discover your true-self, you encounter the limiting parts of yourself, weaknesses, limiting beliefs, blocks, self-suppression, unexpressed feelings, insecurities, jealousies and doubts. In other words you encounter your dark side. You also discover and encounter any opposition to your visions, goals and dreams.

In the process of your journey, you overcome and master your dark side and gain attributes, qualities, and virtues and develop your overall character as a meaningful, worthwhile, contributing, conscious, compassionate, humble and honorable human being.

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the journey and is the point where most people quit, give up and throw in the towel! It is easy to look at what is good, what is beautiful and the aspects of ourselves that are great. On the other hand, looking at the ugly, nasty and self-interested parts of ourselves is not easy. And yet, honesty requires it. Why is this so hard? Because, our egos are as fragile as a house of cards.

Should you continue, you become very clear who you are and what you stand for. Your vision, values, beliefs and most importantly — actions, are in total alignment with your spiritual-self.

Returning from your Quest, you then integrate all you have become and learned in order to be a contributing member of society.

The nature of your Quest is that it is a life-long journey with no specific destination. While there are milestones along the way, the real and meaningful result is WHO YOU BECOME IN THE PROCESS.

© Goldzone Foundation. All rights reserved.

Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay

February 25, 2009

royal_bank_building-smallI have been reflecting further about the “financial crisis,” and recalling a book I read in 1982 called Towers of Gold: Feet of Clay – the Canadian Banks, by Walter Stewart.

In a conversation about this with my colleagues I happened to say towers of glass, and perhaps 27 years later, Glass is more descriptive. In 1982, I was working in the oil and gas industry in Canada and this book was written about the Banking Industry, the mortgage crisis and the oil prices. These themes are again relevant in 2009.

In Towers of Gold, the title was based on the Royal Bank in Canada with a gold colored glass tower in Toronto. Gold had more relevance then as some of the money (not much even then) was actually backed by gold bars. Many eons ago, most of it was either made of gold/silver and later backed by it. Now most of our money is floating around electronically in bits and bytes, and the cash is made of plastic, paper and mostly cheaper metals. I have a special account (premier customer – which means more money deposited) with a major international bank, and the interest on this was very low and now has dropped to 0%.

I used to have judgements about people who keep their money in or under the mattress. Now I can laugh at myself because there is not much difference. Judgements are often like that, what goes around comes around. I wish I had some gold bars.

I feel this title reflects what is happening very accurately. Now there are even more towers of glass. There is competition between top cities about who can build the tallest tower, one about half a mile into the sky. Now most of these projects are compromised, and construction financing has been choked almost to death. Containers of steel and glass which were in such short supply (some orders 3 years ahead) were turned around from China and returned to their origin. Each one of these events has an impact on multiple people, industries, and countries. These really are the waves of impact. The waves move around the world faster than the earth spins.

These towers are built to be earthquake proof, tidal wave resistant, fire resistant and all these events are insured. This is where the foundations (the feet of clay) are being stretched beyond anything imaginable. And most will fall short in the test over time… I am refering to the financial foundations and also that of people, relationships, organizations, communities, and countries.

Like the banks, we all have glass towers that we build (what we show the world: the act, the ego, the stuff) and feet of clay (what we are at the core of our being: the real self, the essence, the ordinary humble person). Glass towers are fragile, and someone can always build a taller one.

I see all this as an opportunity to lead where it matters. When the waves of impact hit us, we cannot control the wave, only our response. By building personal foundations that are deep, strong, resilient and mostly invisible to everyone else, we can withstand the waves and even become better human beings. We can choose right action no matter what prevails.

Waves of Impact

February 24, 2009

underwater3

Nearly everyone is feeling the financial crisis, not all at once, but rather in waves.  These waves or fluctuations go in and out like the ocean. Each one brings more insight, more truth, more change, and with each contact, ever greater connections that impact our reality. The illusions and ideas that we took for granted are eroding.

We once thought ideas, like banks, are stable and real estate is a safe bet.  Ideas about the hedge funds, insurance companies, and finacial gurus, to name a few.  Ideas about government and capitalism and private business.  Ideas about retirement and security. All of these ideas are being challenged, exposed, and the bottom line, once so clear, is a hazy blur. No one seems to know exactly when and how the whole experience known as the financial crisis will end. As quickly as solutions appear, another wave appears, and the impact keeps growing.

More than ever it is time to lead, not follow.  Calling this a financial crisis does not do justice to what is really going on and how many areas of life this will impact.  Relationships are being torn apart, stress-related health issues are prevalent, mental illness is on the rise and lives are in transition.  There are more things than I can write about. Money or lack of money is not the core cause, and neither is it, by itself, the long term solution.

People and organizations will have to go through transformations to win. Getting by is not enough.  I believe this is an extra-ordinary opportunity to step out of the trance of mediocrity and into the ideals we desire. Cooperation, harmony, compassion and truth will have a greater audience than competition, greed, self-interest and illusions of reality designed to serve a few.  We can choose to evolve to our highest potential together and rise above the waves. Or, we can choose to do nothing, step into fear and denial and eventually drown in them.

Now is the perfect time to re-define who we are.  To internalize our self-worth as seperate from our net-worth. To find fulfillment in life and not just on paper (bank statements, share certificates, etc). Time to play the game no matter how challenging…play to win!


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