The Inside Out

The Inside Out

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Last week I was sent a great quote that I wanted to share and write about:

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”      –   Unknown Monk, 1100 AD

If I am honest, my greatest challenges do not lie with making things happen in the outer world. I actually find that relatively easy. However, the closer to home, the more I struggle.

I find that simple things – like paying attention to what interests my 3 year old son – are far tougher challenges than convincing people to take on a world problem. I find that not getting annoyed with my wife about something small is actually a far tougher challenge for me than coming up with a crazy idea that impacts a lot of people.

And how I feel, deep inside, can be the hardest part. Even now, living a rich and rewarding life as I do, there are still times when I struggle to motivate myself to get out of bed.

The last few years have been quite a journey. What started as a mission to change the outer world has become a very necessary drive to change and improve my inner world.

The great thing is that the more I slow down, let go, and focus on the inner struggle, the more the outer world seems to improve around me, and the easier change happens.

To me, the most important thing is not what I do: it is what kind of energy I send out into the world from within. The unintended consequence of expanding my inner struggle into the world could be huge. My belief is that if I strive rather than thrive, it creates unintended problems that I don’t yet fully understand.

Reflecting on Steve Jobs, whilst I admire what he has done in the world, I also question what more he could have done if he had not had such a painful way of dealing with those close to him. What subconscious message did that send to people within his organisation? What subconscious message did that organisation then propagate around the world?

I also look at Elon Musk, whom I also admire, and I see that he is getting divorced for the third time. Again, what subconscious impact is that having on his organisations? What impact does it have on the way everyone else builds organisations?

How do these struggles closer to home compromise the longer-term impact such people can make on the world? How do our inner struggles impact the world? What are the unintended consequences of this?

If potential is infinite and our ideas are an infinite resource, why compromise on any part of life? Why sacrifice something you hold dearly, in the pursuit of something else?

These questions pose good challenges for me. Every day that passes, I am more focussed on building from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

A good job, too – because in matters of inner transformation, and in being a great husband and father, I have to say that I still feel like a complete novice.

Work in progress.


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  1. Reading this post affirms my belief that I am on the right track. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Mohandas Gandhi said. No one can really impact the world if one has inner unresolved issues. This year, I have started reconnecting with my family, with my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and relatives I have been estranged from in a long time. Yeah, it’s not easy, but the work is in progress. In due time, I will get there.

  2. TRUE TRUE, first focus on what is really important which should create a ripple effect of sorts.

  3. This is a great reminder for me to start each day with, “How can I serve?”. I sometimes go into meetings loaded for bear, with my own agenda and my own expectations or suppositions. If I can pause and remember that my goal is to be a “beneficial presence” in the meeting, to listen and contribute to the common goal, whether I’m totally on board mentally or emotionally yet or not – I guarantee the meeting will go much better (at least for me).

    I have a mantra that I use at holidays with my family. Before we share a meal I lead us in saying:

    If there is peace in myself, there is peace in my family
    If there is peace in my family, there is peace in my neighborhood
    If there is peace in my neighborhood, there is peace in my city
    If there is peace in my city, there is peace in my region
    If there is peace in my region, there is peace in my country
    If there is peace in my country, there is peace in the world
    Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

    I agree, it’s an inside job.

  4. mamokhethi says

    This is important in everyday activites to focus on inner self. The Insight out. I have learnt that to motivate other people I should start first to motivate myself.

  5. Things come from a very different place when you can really truly love who you are. I made the decision to stop looking for inspiration and just hang around the people and places who bring out a feeling in my body of being who I really am.. Supported by loving thoughts towards myself and very importantly strong boundaries so that you don’t let others who are not a good fit for the authentic you to feed off your energy. You sound like there’s a slight self-convincing about your achievements. Honesty and intimacy with your own emotions and hanging in a good environment for sensitive people like myself too incidentally produce growth and wonderful shifts. There’s a type of spirituality I find doesn’t help – like for example forgiveness. If you forgive just because it’s meant to be a ‘good’ thing to do – instead of the authentic route of genuinely addressing deep emotions triggered by the hurt FIRST and then forgiveness can happen naturally as a result of a good deep honest look. Beware of what’s ego and what’s your essence. Ego is terribly important I think and so is armour when we need it. Protect when necessary and learn to love who you are and show that to who makes you feel loved and safe. Away from the glamour of skills and achievement lie a treasure chest of ordinary moments with those who matter and with whom you can mend. Be care be loving to yourself selfish where necessary and boundaried where necessary because when we are dead and gone anyone’s view of our marvellousness won’t go very far but authentically loving treasure chest will echo . You’re a great person but I reckonise you are lost from yourself but you are sat right with yourself right now you just need a new pair of glasses. Hope I’ve not been too presumptuous here but ive been through this. Very refreshing to see this post of yours. That’s your strength to be able to look at that. And when you’re lying in bed not wanting to get up .. That was me too .. Remember if the thoughts aren’t good – your mind is LYING to you. Keep looking within as well as your immediate environment. Joanne X

  6. Awesome post Marc. One of those reads that I think will take a while to really sink in for me, so I don’t have much say about it just now except that your words (and the quote) really touched me and have left me with a lot to consider. As someone who makes a living helping others, I find it so important to remember to also keep working on my own way of thinking. I hope you realise what a big difference you sharing your inner journey is making to others. Julia x

  7. Lesley Jeffery says

    I think you are very brave putting it all out there. You are on the wavelength. As you explore you will find many like minded people out there! Dr Wayne Dyer ~ Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life and a guy called Bryant McGill are quite inspiring. I am also a big fan of Greg Braden. Keep writing!

  8. I’ve been struggling with this idea for some time. My own writing is very much tied up in the idea that change ONLY comes from within. If there is no change of mind, our OWN MINDS, then there can never be change in the world. If we do not abandon our central myth, “the world belongs to us and we can do with it what we will”–and idea put forward by Daniel Quinn in his book, ‘Ishmael’–and instead see ourselves, personally, as ‘part’ of the Earth, not as as masters over creatures great and small, then the world will remain the same. Once we make that shift? Everything changes, instantly! Because reality is created by our own minds to begin with. I suspect that that is the central thesis of your website; it’s also the central thesis of mine. What we do after we change our minds? That is very much up for debate. But the change in mindset is essential, foundational, to any change.

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