Half the Class Cried and Many Others Had Moist Eyes

Your life will improve if you learn this lesson

Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM), the course I created, was among the most popular and highest rated at many of the world’s top business schools.

I learnt a lot from the highly intelligent and fiercely driven men and women who participated and shared freely about the problems they were facing.

I remember one whose tale touched many. Let’s call him Joe.

Joe was an immigrant and had some cultural issues so he thought he did not ‘fit in’ with others.

He was very bright but his accent was noticeable and probably contributed to low self-esteem. He compensated by working really hard and was actually ahead of most of his peers in salary and position.

He felt CPM really transformed his life and, for the first time, he started feeling at peace with himself and OK with whatever the future would bring.

He had a young son, Adam — about eight at the time — and was also going through a somewhat contentious divorce. His soon to be ex-wife was planning to move to a different country and they were working out custody arrangements.

His son was frequently silent and withdrawn and he wanted to teach him the CPM exercises that he had found so useful for himself.

One day, when the two of them were alone, he noticed his son’s lip trembling. His wife had just stalked out of the house after a minor disagreement that escalated into a shouting match.

He hugged Adam and asked him how he was feeling. Adam burst out crying. He hated it when his parents fought and he didn’t like the thought of leaving his school and moving away to a different country.

Seeing an opening, Joe suggested playing a game. “You know, moving to a different country does not have to be challenging. Let’s think of all the ways in which it can be fun.”

Adam was diffident but agreed to play. Soon they were topping each other with ideas. Adam loved flying and he would be doing lots of it as he went from parent to parent. He would have different toys in each of his homes. And different friends.

He would be in a city with his father and in the country with his mother and each had its charms. He would be able to bicycle to school and stay up late when he visited his father.

Adam’s eyes started shining and he squealed with laughter as he listed the possibilities.

“That really worked,” thought Joe as the momentum eased. Tenderly he asked Adam what else he could do.

Adam deflated visibly.

“I wish you would talk to me like you just did,” he said. “You are never there most of the time.”

And Joe realized the truth of that like a hammer blow. Yes, he did try to be there for his son and took him to movies and came home for dinner. But he was always preoccupied. With his studies, with his job, with the deteriorating relationship with his wife.

He wept for Adam’s childhood that he had already missed.

There was such heartfelt pathos in his voice as Joe spoke about his realization, that half the class broke down.

Think of your life. Think of the time you spend with your partner and children and loved ones.

Are you really there? Or are you a Hungry Ghost going through the motions obsessed with your mental chatter and driven by your needs? I will wager that you are more frequently the latter than you would like to be.

Take heart. Don’t beat yourself up. That is simply shooting the second arrow. I will tell you what this means in a future post.

For the moment, bring yourself to the present. Bring yourself to the person you are with. Pour your attention into your interaction. Practice mindfulness.


A new CPM online program will begin shortly and dealing with your mental chatter and practicing mindfulness are important components. If you would like to be a part of this and would like information, email Janelle Light at Janelle.Light@theraoinstitute.com

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