Take Back Time Part Six: Infinite

The reason I thought I left the UK at the time was that I wanted to find another way to live my life…

So I would say to myself always when I arrived at a new place: “Is this the life for me?”

But that was not really My Question.

I hadn’t found it yet…

Livingstone’s Dream

In Africa I saw many other ways to live.

In Malawi people are literally starving to death, but you will never meet a more lovely and happy people. It really is the warm heart of Africa.

If you go to a village there they will line up to shake your hand and introduce themselves. You can take a baby from its mother’s arms and she will walk off, content and trusting in the fact that everyone takes care of everyone else.

And do you know why…?

I once heard a story that a missionary went to confront the slave traders that would take the people from Malawi across the great lake to be sold to the Arabs.

This man Livingstone, sat under a tall tree with his umbrella and waited for the slave master to come…

And when he came Livingstone, even though he was a Christian, would preach Suryas from the Quran about how one should not own another man’s life.

And at first the slave master laughed and took the slaves…

But each year he would return and Livingstone would be waiting for him with his umbrella, and he would preach from the Quran…

And this went on for many years with no success, but Livingstone did not give up…

Then one year there was a draught and all the leaves were gone from all the trees and the only shade around was the shade of Livingstone’s umbrella…

And when the slave master came he offer him to sit under his umbrella with him, and the slave master sat down…

Then Livingstone preached to him under the shade of his umbrella, and by the time the sun had set that day the slave master was in tears…

He realised that his whole life had been led in sin and he repented everything to Livingstone…

That day he promised not to take slaves anymore and Livingstone gave him his umbrella and said:

You are forgiven. When next you come to this village hold not your gun high but this umbrella, so that all can see that you have come in peace…

And that night after the slave master had left a great fruit from the tree fell through Livingstone’s tent and killed him…

And everyone in the village said that it was a good death…

You see when you live your whole life knowing what your purpose is, knowing why you do what you do…

You see when you finally find the answer to that question, you have lived fully, and you can die well…

The Little Boy

After I heard that story a little boy came up to me and took my hand and we walked together…

I was with a group of other tourists and all the other westerners were giving the kids sweets, or money, or pencils to use in school…

And they were all being mobbed by hundreds of kids and throwing out these gifts like they were feeding pigeons…

But I was just walking with little Timmy…

And when we left that village I couldn’t bring myself to give him money, because I knew that his family would just take it from him and that it would make little difference to his life…

So I took a pen and I asked him to hold out his hands…

And on the back of each hand I drew two symbols, positive infinity and negative infinity…

And I told him to stretch out his arms as wide as he could, and I said:

“Everything you need in life is between your fingers…You are infinite…”

And though I’ll never know if he truly understood what I had given him…he smiled at me that day…

And that day I thought I understood a little better, that people can be happy even when they have nothing, as long as they have what he had…

You see happiness, true happiness, does not come from anywhere outside your reach…

It comes from within…

You are infinite…

So that even if you are in the most dire straits, if you have not even the money to eat, or to buy clothes, as long as you have that thing in your heart, that trust in yourself…

If you can see that…

You can be happy…

And that was what I was beginning to see…

In Part Seven…

There I was staring at the man I could have been…and though we lived worlds apart, we were both looking for the same thing.

In Part Seven I will tell you about a young man I met who showed me the error of my ways.

“If you journey long enough you will meet yourself…”

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Take Back Time Part Five: The Question

We all have a fundamental question that lives in our hearts, and it guides almost every action we make.

For some it may be something simple like: “Will this make me happy?”

When you are choosing whether or not to have a regular coffee, or an orange mocha frappacino, you may ask: “Will this make me happy?” and the choice is obvious.

But to someone else who has a different question in their hearts, they may ask: “Will this make me lose weight?” and then the choice is obviously the opposite.

Everyone has a question that lives deep inside their hearts. Some may have two or three, but there will always be an overarching question…

The great writer Alexandre Dumas once said that a man’s fundamental drive should be:

To seek all pleasures that can be honourably sought, whilst avoiding all pain that can be honourably avoided.”

So his fundamental question when taking any action would be: “Is this honourable?”

Why do you do the things you do…? What fundamental question drives you onward? What question will help you overcome this insurmountable wall before you?

“Find your why and you will find your way…”

Not How but Why

The problem then becomes not how you will overcome this wall, but why do you need to?

What dream, what desire it is that lies on the other side?

What fear or pain is it that makes up this wall?

Why? Why do you want to break it down so much?

Why do you need what’s on the other side so badly that you’re willing to risk it all, spend your entire life hitting at it and chipping it away, staring at it, cursing at it, screaming at it to break, only to one day slump down against it old and grey and regretful…

When you find out why…this fundamental thing that drives you, then how is really obvious…

The Five Why’s

When you encounter a problem in your life you should always try to break it down to find the root cause. Because the first answer may only point to a symptom.

“Why were you late today?” Asked the boss in a huff.

“My car wouldn’t start.” Replied the employee apologetically.

The boss huffed in disbelief and marked him down on his next quarterly review for being late.

So what if the boss had asked him again: “Why wouldn’t your car start?”

“Because it’s broken and I need to take it to the shop.” Replied the employee.

“And why haven’t you?”

“Because I can’t afford it.”

The boss’s expression turns to mild surprise. “Why?”

“Because my wife left me and took everything in the divorce.”

The boss’s expression turns to one of mild shock. “Why?”

“Because I’m an alcoholic!” Cries the man and breaks down on the floor.

The boss stands there and stares at him for a moment and then his expression turns to one of deep regret. “I’m sorry.” He says, and puts forward a proposal for a company sponsored Alcoholics Anonymous program.

SAD

So let’s have the conversation between Mike and his doctor:

“I’m depressed.” Says Mike.

“Why?” Asks the Doctor.

“Well…It’s not all the time, it’s just in winter.”

“Why?”

“Well…I suppose it’s because winter is depressing.”

“Why?”

“Because…well, I just hate winter.”

“Why?”

“Because winter makes me depressed.”

“You have Seasonal Affective Disorder.” says the doctor. “Winter is why you are depressed.”

“Then I’ll live somewhere there’s no winter!” cries Mike, and off he goes to Rwanda.

This is How.

And you see that once you have realised Why you have a problem then suddenly you have an epiphany, suddenly How is so obvious that you look up from the sand and see the sea.

In Part Six…

So what was my question? In Part Six I am going to share with you the struggle I went through to find what my question really was. I searched all over the world for answers, but it wasn’t until I found My Question that I was finally able to understand my fear and conquer it.

Subscribe to receive email notifications and look out for Part Six: Infinite…

Why Most Businesses Work Backwards

Why Most Businesses Work Backwards

When starting a business most people think they have to come up with an idea or product that no one has ever thought of before.

Then they spend months and months, and thousands of pounds crafting and recrafting this unique and beautiful product until they think it’s perfect.

Then and only then do they show it to the world and find out that actually no one wants to buy it.

These are the kinds of businesses that fail every day…

Wisdom from Dr Suess

The perfect example of this is in the film The Lorax. In this film the Once-Ler set’s off in search of the perfect material for his invention the “Thneed.” He searches far and wide and eventually comes across a big fluffy tree and cuts it down.

He then begins knitting the strangest and most convoluted garment he can imagine and stands out in the town square trying to sell it. He lists all the features and benefits and shows everyone how versatile and wonderful it is…but no one buys it.

After years of researching and making this new and unique product, and not being able to sell it, he then gives up and throws it over his shoulder.

Do you see how ridiculous this ideology is? It’s so ridiculous in fact, that even Dr Seuss thought to point it out to children.

thneed_need

Fortunately for the Once-ler the Thneed just so happens to land on someone’s head in the shape of a hat, and someone complements them on it. Other people see them complimenting it and ask where they got it from, and soon everyone is crowding around the Once-Ler’s shop and buying all the hats he has for sale…

In reality, hardly anyone is so lucky.

 

Let’s take another example of a business from that film.

After cutting down all the trees in the forest to make Thneeds, the whole city becomes polluted and horrible. The foreman at the Thneed factory, after a coughing fit, turns around anecdotally to his apprentice and says: “Man, I wish we had some clean air. That’d be a million dollar business!”

The apprentice then has the biggest “AHA!” moment in history and becomes a multi-millionaire selling bottles of fresh air.

You see how this business model works better? Smart Man Dr Suess…

The Best advice I ever Got

So why doesn’t the Thneed sell?

I’m going to give you the best piece of advice I ever got in business:

Your opinion doesn’t matter!

batman-slap-robin

You are not your target audience, so what you think is unique and perfect is not necessarily what other people will think at all. This kind of thinking is a recipe for wasting your life and your talents.

Breaking down False Beliefs

So let’s break down these false beliefs and turn this business model on it’s head:

False Belief #1:

“When starting a business you have to come up with an idea or product that no one has ever thought of before.”

The problem with this belief is that, if no one has ever thought of it before, how do you know if people actually need it?

NASA spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could write in space, whilst the Russians simply used a pencil…

A much better idea is to find a market that already has lots of interest and create a product that fits in the same niche.

Go to any shop and look at any isle you want: toothpaste, dog food, mobile phones; there will be shelves and shelves of similar products all side by side. Why? Because one brand saw it was successful and jumped on board. Everyone needs toothpaste right?

Now that’s not saying that you can’t have a Unique Selling Point (USP), but your basic idea should be something you know already has a market where people are buying it.

 

False Belief #2:

“You need to spend months and months refining your product until it’s perfect before showing it to the world.”

First of all how do you know what’s perfect? If no one has ever seen it, you can’t have got any feedback from your target audience at all, and you are asking for failure.

Most people hold onto their ideas like they are babies, never wanting them to go out into the world because they are still young a vulnerable and they fear what people might actually think of them.

Well here’s a tip for free. Your first attempt will fail. Just like the in The Matrix “No one makes the first jump.”

The key to success in business is continuous improvement:Create Measure Improve

When starting out with a new business, create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) then release it to a trial audience and get their feedback. They will likely tear it apart and this is what will make Mk.2 100% better.

Look at any piece of software you own and see the version. It will likely be something like 5.2.15 or something ridiculous like that. Imagine if iOS had never release because they were still waiting for iOS 9…

So now can you see why the Thneed failed and bottled air succeeded?

The Once-Ler thought he knew what people wanted, spent years perfecting it, then tried to sell it and no one came.

O’Hare Air listened to his target market, found out what they wanted, and gave it to them. This is the secret to success.

No one needs a Thneed…

Take Back Time Part Four: The Journey

There will be times in your life when there seems to be this wall in front of you. You have gone down the straight path all your life without ever looking around and suddenly you find that you cannot go on.

But it is in these times that you wake up from the trance you have been in and shake your head and suddenly you realise that you’ve been searching in the sand all your life for a drop of water, not realising that it was a beach and that there was a sea right next to you…

You see there is always a choice.

You can stare at this wall and think about how high it is, and how difficult it seems to climb, and that the ladder you had been on your whole life is now in tatters on the floor…

Or you can look around and realise that the wall is only blocking you from what is on the other side…

You see if you travel with a river, so that you swim along with it, you’re going with the flow and everything is moving with you…you are at rest.

It’s only when you try to swim against it that the water rushes against you and pushes you back…

And what happens to a river when it hits a wall? It simply flows around it.

As long as the river flows, that is as long as life flows, the water will always find another way.

There is always another way…

You only need know there is a way and you will inevitably find it.

And there IS a way…

This is the key.


To Africa

So I took the money from the medical trial and the money from my redundancy settlement and I disappeared…gone with the wind…

I decided that I would do everything I’d always wanted to do. My old life had nothing left for me anymore and so I decided that I would find another way to live.

I had nothing to lose right?

So I went to visit my friends in Africa. They were living in a small house in Rwanda with no hot water, no cooking and barely any electricity.

Mike was a bicycle mechanic for the Rwanda cycling team and Melba was starting her own jewellery up-selling business.

I hadn’t seem them for years and they had been living the most extraordinary lives all over Africa, living from hand to mouth, from country to country, doing what they could to get by.

And I thought “Wow, how can they be living like this?”

So I asked Mike “Are you happy?” and he said to me “Dean, all I ever really wanted was for it to be warm.”

You see Mike has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. He get’s depressed in the wintertime, and on the equator there is no winter…

For him it was a choice as obvious as whether or not to wear a rain coat in a storm. He saw the problem and saw the solution.

Because you see a problem is really just a solution upside down…

Problem: you hate winter. Solution: remove winter…

Does anyone else have a problem like that?

Problem: I’m fat…solution: remove fat…

But these things can be difficult, as I’m sure we all know.

So the question really is ‘How?’ Right?

Wrong…the question is not how.


So you’re friend says “I’m depressed.”

You respond: “How will you fix this problem?”

“I will become happy.”

“How?”

“I will think happy thoughts, and do happy things and pretend that everything is alright.”

Does this solve the problem? Does that ever solve the problem?

No. Because you never really find out what the problem is…and if you don’t know what the problem really is, you’ll never find a solution.

The question you need to ask is not “How?” but “Why?”

If you can find out why you are unhappy, why you are afraid, why you do the things you do, why you are at this wall, not how you got there, then you will be able to break free.


The Why

“How is it that you can do so many things?” asked the boy to the adventurer. “You can build a ship and sail it across the seas, and read the starts, and always find your way home. How do you do it?” pleaded the boy.

“It’s not how you should be asking” replied the adventurer sombrely, “but why.”

“Why?” asked the boy, confused, “but why?”

“Why do you do the things that you do?” asked the adventurer. “Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you eat breakfast, why do you look up at the stars and wonder what they mean?”

“Well…” hesitated the boy, “Well, I don’t know.”

“How comes after Why my boy.” whispered the adventurer with a secret smile, “It is his little brother. It follows him, learns from him and aspires to him. It grows to him, feeds from him and finds all paths that lead from him, no matter how hard or far: it always meets him in the end. So do not worry about How, find your Why and you will find your way…”


In Part Five…

In Part Five I’m going to tell you about The Question. There is a fundamental questions that lives in all our hearts, that guides almost every action we take: it is Your Why.

And if you know what your Why is then your How will become obvious.

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Take Back Time, Part Three: The Wall

There will be times in your life when you feel like you just can’t go on, like some insurmountable obstacle lies in your way, and the ladder you had been climbing now lies in tatters on the floor.

It may be that you had been moving forward your whole life to escape something in your past, or you were blissfully ignorant until it all came crashing down around you.

Whatever the crisis is, internal or external, you’ll feel like you’ve hit The Wall.

This is where I found myself…

But it’s important to know that it’s not your fault.

Though you are blinded to the future by the pain you feel today, this will be the strength you find when you look back tomorrow.

Downward Spiral

So I’d worked hard all my life to be where I was, and at the ripe age of just 26 I was out in this famous world. I had achieved everything I set out to accomplish, everything I had set out to become.

I had a good education, I had this job thing that people were supposed to have, I had a partner whom I thought I loved and a place to call my own that I thought I liked.

But I was still afraid…

I was afraid of losing my job, I was afraid of not being able to pay my rent, I was afraid that my partner didn’t really love me, that I wasn’t really who I thought I was, or where I thought I was supposed to be…

And I would still lie awake at night and think about losing everything and about that black hole that lies beyond….

And then one day I really did lose it all…

I lost my job and my home and my girlfriend left me through depression. Everything that I had built my whole life up to be was suddenly crumbling around me and I felt like I was falling in a downward spiral.

I felt like the walls were closing in on me, the reaper had come and he was at my door again…

I had to move back to my home town and live on my friend’s sofa.

I tried to disguise my feelings around my friends by drinking, but to me it was a s transparent as water.

I had no energy and would take long baths during the day and cry to myself.

And the living room where I slept had no door, and one night I was lying there, and my two friends were in bed with their girlfriends, and all I could hear was the not so subtle sounds of their love making…

And I was terribly ill with a fever because I’d been selling my body to medical science to make money to eat and had been made to take immunosuppressants…

And I had a panic attack, because I thought I was going to die, and I got off the sofa and was out of my mind, and I went to my friend’s door…

And I knocked but I was so afraid I couldn’t even speak, and he came to the door with a bat…

And he had to call the hospital and get a doctor to calm me down…

And the next day my friend wouldn’t talk to me and could I tell him why I had knocked…?

No! Because I was still terrified…

You see no matter where we are in life, whether we’re happy and have everything we’ve ever wanted, or we have nothing and have nothing to lose anyway…

That fundamental fear, that thing that keeps us awake at night, that wakes us up in the morning with a fright…

If you do not face it, it will always follow you…

If you do not speak it, it will take your voice away…

If you do not own it, it will own your life…

So what did I do…?

I had no house, no job, no partner, and I had outstayed my welcome…

I ran away.

In Part Four…

In part four I’m going to tell you about my two journeys.

You see a person really goes through two journeys in their life; and external journey, and an internal journey. And though we may be aware of the external journey, we are often unaware of the transformation that it happening inside.

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Take Back Time, Part Two: The Invisible Ladder

Have you ever felt like your whole life has been building up to something, but that you’ve never really arrived?

Do you ever get that anxious feeling like there’s something you’re supposed to do, or that time is running out?

Are you always thinking of the future at the expense of the moment?

It happens to all of us and it’s the route of so much anxiety. So What’s the rootof it all?

The Root

The famous philosopher Alan Watts once said:

“Don’t you remember when you first went to school and suddenly there was a path already laid out before you?”

Before you’d just been playing in the sand, now your teacher begins telling you all the things you’re going to learn and all the things you have to do in your life in order to become part of ‘The World.’

And you’re captivated…It’s like an oracle is telling you your future. So you climb aboard this ship that is your life and begin to sail.

You go through your first year at school and there’s this pressure to learn so that you can do well in the next year, and before you know it you’re sitting your first exams, and this is the moment you’ve been preparing for your whole life…or so it seems.

And then you’re in secondary school and it’s a whole new world, and you sit down with your new classmates and your new teacher tells you that all of that was just child’s play, and that now you will be really learning, and there’s all this stuff to prepare you for.

So you go on up the years and there are more tests and more pressure, and then you graduate from secondary school and someone sits you down again and says:

“OK, so you made it this far, but that was just a stepping stone, and now you need to study hard to go to college, and university, and if you ever want to be a part of the ‘real world’ you better do well, or else!”

So you go to college and you go to university and every step gets harder and harder and there’s more pressure, and when you finally graduate you go out into this famous world…

And there you begin the struggle for success in the workplace.

And again it’s like there’s a ladder before you and you have to do well so you can get a promotion and climb up the next rung, so that you can have that house and that mortgage you’ve always been told about.

And somewhere along the line, maybe when your 40 or 45, in the middle of your life you wake up and go:

“Huh…I’ve arrived. And you know what I feel just about the same as I’ve always felt, in fact I don’t know if I don’t feel a little cheated.”

Again, stop me if this sounds familiar…

And some people work all their lives until they’re 60 or 65 and when they retire they say “Aha! Finally I can live my life…but now I’m old and have no teeth, and a bad hip, and two bad knees, and I can’t climb that mountain I’ve always wanted to climb, or skinny dip in that lake because I’m all saggy and old and I don’t want people to look at me anymore.”

Because you see you were fooled…You are always living for somewhere you aren’t.

And when you finally get to that future and it becomes now, you’ve not really there, because you’re living in some other future that hasn’t happened yet.

And so you will never be able to truly inherit the fruits of your actions.

You can’t really live at all…unless you live fully…now.

The Proof

One morning a violinist stood in the middle of a subway station in Washington DC and began to play. He played for nearly an hour, and in that time no more than a handful of people stopped to listen. He made about $50.

This was the great violinist Joshua Bell who has commanded millions of dollars playing in the some of the greatest venues in the world. The case where people threw their change usually housed a $1,000,000 violin.

You see people are so engaged in attempting to climb this invisible ladder, that they never actually stop to appreciate the beauty in the world all around them.

And their anxiety springs from the fact that they are always reaching for something that they cannot grasp, so they will never be happy with what they have, because they’re always looking for something more.

Forever is not a point far in the future, or something that happened a long time ago. Forever is now!

So Live Forever!

In Part Three…

In part three I will tell you about The Wall. This is the moment in your life when you feel you cannot go on, when some insurmountable object lies in your way. I’m going to tell you how I came across The Wall and how I got around it.

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Take Back Time, Part One: Death

Why are you here?

Hi, my Name’s Dean O’Shea and I’m going to teach you how to take back time.

Disclaimer…you won’t gain immortality from reading this. I’m not God, or the Devil. I’m not going to give you some pill for immortality in exchange for your soul.

But what this story will teach you, is how to let go of the fear and pain in your life so that you can finally start living the way you want to.

There’s a fundamental question that guides almost all of our actions, but there’s a fundamental fear that stops us from ever finding out what that question really is.

If we never find out what that question is, we can never truly understand why we are here, and if we do not know why, then we can never truly live.

I’m going to help you find out what that question is and show you how to conquer the fear that stands in your way.

Then, and only then, will you be able to live fully, forever.

If you are reading this it is probably because you have been searching for the answer to this question before. You may have followed other gurus, or travelled the world in search for answers, or even paid a therapist, or a hypnotist to pry them from your brain.

Don’t worry, I am not a therapist, this is not a journey with no end, and I’m not going to hypnotise you and then bill you at the end. All I want to do is show you the path I walked and help you walk it for yourself.

It can be scary to tread the path, or to uncover your fears. Most of us keep them buried our whole lives. But what you will discover is that once you truly understand what they are, and how to deal with them, you can conquer them with ease.

You may be suspicious as to what my motives are. In truth, I had lived my whole life in fear, and now that I have finally conquered it, I feel like it’s my moral obligation to help others to conquer theirs.

I believe that this journey has had more of a profound impact on my life than anything I’ve ever done, and that it is the most noble pursuit anyone can undertake.

I cannot tell you in words the feeling of joy and gratification letting go of my fears and embracing my life has given me. My friends, my family, my relationships, even my wealth has improved seven-fold from what it was before.

And you can experience those things too.

So sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story…

The Fear

When I was a child I used to be terrified of death.

I would lie awake at night and imagine what it would be like to experience nothingness, forever and ever.

I would panic that if I went to sleep I might never wake up again, that’s probably why I’m a bit of an insomniac.

I’m sure we’ve all felt it, that inescapable fear that keeps us awake at night…that follows us through life…and may still do to this day. But that’s why we are here right?

I remember one night, I must have been about 24, I couldn’t sleep and started having a panic attack. I started having convulsions, saying “No! No! No!” over and over again. I leapt out of bed, paced around, tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t.

It was as if death were knocking on my door right then!

In my desperation I picked up the phone and I called my ex-girlfriend. It was late at night and when she answered she was confused.

I asked her to do something I’ve never asked anyone to do before, or since.

I asked her just to talk, to not ask me why I was calling, or what it was about. I made her promise to never ask why I called her, or ever mention it again.

And we just talked about nothing. After half an hour or so I said thank you, I put down the phone and I went to sleep.

And we never spoke of it again.

Why did I do that? Why didn’t I tell her? She would have understood, maybe even been able to help.

I didn’t tell her because I was so afraid of death, it was the worst thing I could possibly imagine, and though I was destitute and had no-one else to turn to, to save me from my fear, I also couldn’t bring myself to infect another person with it.

It was like a disease.

And so I held on to it my entire life, without ever telling anyone I carried this horrible secret, this vile illness, festering inside of me, because I thought that if I ever told anyone, it might awaken inside of them and spread.

And now I am here, in front of all of you, sharing this terrible secret. Why?

Because I’ve finally found the cure…

In Part Two…

In Part Two I will tell you about the ladder that we’ve been led to believe is our lives, and why it is so important that we break away from it.

Subscribe to get email notifications and look out for Part Two: ‘The Invisible Ladder