It's a question of questions

The questions we ask ourselves are everything. You will never find the right answers if you are asking the wrong questions.

Pay attention to the questions you have running through your mind. How are you framing your personal dilemmas? Are you asking yourself what you have to do today or what you want to do today? Are you asking yourself how you can hold onto your job or are you asking yourself how you can triple your income and work just a few hours a day? Are you asking how you can make a terrible relationship last forever or are you asking how you can be happy in love?

Behind every question running through your head is a set of assumptions. If you remove the assumptions, you might free yourself up to ask better questions.  When you ask better questions, you might get better answers. When you act on those better answers, your life might get better because you direct your action in ways that might deliver better results.

What are your biggest questions? Are those questions really inevitable? Might there be other, more profound questions that could replace them? Can you ask better questions by removing a few assumptions? This could be your breakthrough. 

 

Question

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

Huge respect to all the young human beings, from grade 1 through university, for showing up each day and making the most out of an archaic school system designed purely to force upon them soul-crushing domestication and obedience to authority. What a miracle it is that so many of us ultimately are able to unlearn, overcome, and shrug of most of the harm that our schools inflict upon us. May human greatness always prevail!

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

Selling without ego

An ineffective salesperson is an ego-driven salesperson. From his firs contact (his long-winded email pitch), he'll tell you all about "what we do". He'll make wildly optimistic promises and brag about vague successes. All of this, even before understanding anything about who you are, what motivates you, how you are trying to solve the problem today, and before understanding anything about your strategy or approach. He sees you not as an equal partner in what will hopefully become a long-term business relationship, but as an obstacle to his sale.

Then, if for whatever reason you are still convinced to take a call, his focus continues to be on his own needs. He'll run through a standard pitch about what his company does (caring mostly about how well he delivers the pitch), he'll ask whether you have budget (money he wants), whether your project has a timeline (money he wants sooner rather than later), and he'll qualify you to understand whether you have decision-making authority (he doesn't want you to waste his time). All of this, even before he understands what you need or why you took his call to begin with. Even if the conversation does eventually shift to you, how can you be sure you aren't wasting your time or wasting your breath?

Sure, sometimes the customer will buy from an average sales rep. If there is a well-defined need and there are few other choices on the market, then average sales performance is tolerated as just business as usual. But the best salespeople do more than just take orders when they are ripe. The best salespeople know how to step outside of their own ego and how to consult with clients.

To sell without ego is to first understand who the prospect is, what the prospect needs, what he or she is doing today, and where current and past efforts have failed. Top sales performers pitch nothing until they understand the prospect's perspectives, biases and assumptions. This understanding is the foundation from which you can move forward. From there, consultative sales requires that you lay-out a path forward that meets the prospect's needs and, beyond this, exceeds what the prospect is able to accomplish without you. When this has all come together, you can feel the tone shift and the mood lighten. You know that it is only a matter of time before the terms will have been negotiated, the deal will have been signed, and a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship will have begun.

Sales is hard. Because of countless bad experiences, prospects aren't usually open to us and are almost never nice to us at the start of a conversation. Beyond this, salespeople fail far more than we succeed. In many industries, closing 10% of your leads is the best you're ever going to achieve. As salespeople, we need to remind ourselves not to take it personally. It isn't about us.

Don't let ego get in the way of new business. An ego-less salesperson tries to see the world from the client's perspective, treats people well, and places himself in the service of all stakeholders.

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

To love an ego

It is easy to love a person, but hard to love an ego. Ego is the enemy of love.

The ego is prideful and makes demands. To love someone with your ego means to expect your partner to serve that ego. It is to care less about who your partner truly is or what she feels and to care more about what she is or isn't doing to meet your expectations. You will demand, threaten, you will manipulate, you will do anything at all to get what you think you need from your partner. Unfortunately, your partner will never fully satisfy you because the ego is always greedy for more. You believe that you are great, that you are worth it, and you deserve exactly what you imagine you deserve from your partner. It is selfish and ugly.

To be in-love with an ego-driven partner is to slowly come to the understanding that it is only your good behavior that is loved (not you). You come to discover that you don't matter; rather, what matters is the role that you play. It doesn't matter to your ego-driven partner what you feel, what you think, or who you are. If you do or express something that threatens or fails to serve your partner's ego, you are swiftly met with disapproval or anger. What matters to your ego-driven partner is only what you do to serve that ego. To dedicate yourself to an ego-driven partner is to feel constantly frustrated, afraid, misunderstood, unloved and lonely.

Still, even if you express these feelings, the ego-driven partner is unwilling to change. The ego doesn't listen. It doesn't learn. The ego justifies everything. It threatens, manipulates, and resorts to hostility and violence. When out of control, the ego is willing to destroy anything to get what it thinks it needs. As a result, to love an ego-driven partner is bad for your well-being. You begin to believe that you are not worthy of love unless you meet your partner's expectations. You feel as though something is wrong with you. You find yourself hiding your true self, lying, or even cheating when the despair becomes too much.

Ego

To love without ego is to love your partner unconditionally and to completely accept who she is. It is to understand that her feelings are not a threat to you. The things she likes, the things she does for herself, the decisions she makes about the relationship, none of it is against you because it isn't about you. It is about her. Don't take it personally.

To love without ego is to fully experience the bliss that true love brings. It is to know and understand a person deeply, to have complete trust because there is no reason to lie. It is to know another person as well as you know yourself (neither of which are possible with ego). It is to feel the lightness of freedom even as you are committed. May you discover the joy and bliss of loving without ego. 

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

Bernie Sanders, the conclusion of the Democratic Primaries, and what to do next #differentfuture

Bernie Sanders has now finally been over-run by the Democratic party, the corporate media, by the full strength of the establishment. I’m thinking about the millions of people who placed so much hope in him, in this movement, this message. Millions of people made contributions, spread the word, and turned-up for enormous rallies just like millions of beautiful and inspiring young children.

Like a small child asking a parent whether it would be ok to stay home from school, they politely asked the all-powerful establishment whether it would be ok if we could please stop funneling all our money to the top .01%, if we could please have healthcare, please have an education without going broke, and to please stop unjust imprisonment. How did the all-powerful establishment respond? Like a strict, stubborn father reacting to a small child’s request. The answer was short, clear, and unmistakable. The answer was “no”. The entire process was controlled by rigged specific rules (super-delegates, closed primaries, etc.), media bias (very little coverage for Bernie), and in the end they called the primary a day before the huge California primary.

The truth is, even if Bernie had managed to become President, there is very little that he could have accomplished within the rigged political system where essentially every congressman and senator is bought and paid for by their corporate, billionaire overlords. Bernie was not just on our side, he was directly opposed to their side. Bernie did win a victory, though his victory was symbolic. He exposed so much and taught us so much. But the truth is that essentially none of his proposals would have become law.

What if, rather than asking the establishment to please change, we acted not as children asking for permission but as adults making our own decisions? When we ask a corrupt political system to change, when we ask our employers for a raise, and when we live by the rules of conventional wisdom that everyone seems to agree with, we are living as helpless, obedient children. Like a child who is told to go to bed and doesn’t want to, we obey in action even if we occasionally dissent by grumbling about how unfair it is.

If we are going to live in a better, freer, more fair world, we will need to become adults and stop asking for permission. We will need to become our own ruling elite. We need to create systems and structures to depend upon that are not designed to exploit us. The systems we depend upon today are designed to exploit us by a ruling elite who grows wealthier and more powerful each day though the exploitation of our hard work, our intelligence, our time, and our talent.

I see a different future, where we move away from the structures and institutions that enslave us and we create structures and institutions that free us. It is a simple switch, really, and we don’t even need to win an election or ask permission. We just need to live differently and to create systems that support that way of life. My idea for just such a system is presented in this free, 25-page eBook.

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

New Abscondo album

The new Abscondo solo album Forbidden Curiosities is available on Apple Music, streaming for free on Jamendo, and coming to all other digital music sources shortly. The response to the album has been quite positive so far.  I'm glad.

Forbidden Curiosities Cover smaller

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

To love a person more than a story

To truly love a person and to be loved in return. This is the highest form of happiness that I have known in this life. Sometimes I wonder, if we all agree that love is the most wonderful thing and most of us crave true love more than anything else, then what holds us back from finding it? Even when we do stumble upon perfect love in these imperfect lives, then what prevents us from sustaining it over the long-term?

I think that true love is something that happens when two people love each other more than they love the story. Most of us have it the other way around. Even before we meet our true love, we are in love with the fairy-tale of our perfect love story. We might imagine a perfect wedding or we may plan to have two children. We might imagine the right life partner as someone who falls within a certain age range, someone who looks a certain way, is from the same part of the world, or someone who shares the same interests. In this way, we might fall in love with a love story even before we meet. Then, when we meet a real person, we tend to qualify or disqualify them based on whether they can take us down the path of our perfect story. In doing so, we often disqualify people who we might otherwise have fallen madly in love with. Worse yet, we undermine the potential of our relationships because we overlook the infinite possibilities available to us that we haven't previously imagined.

Even if we are lucky enough to find Mr. or Ms. right, even after we have had the perfect wedding and have been fortunate enough to setting into the perfect house, this is when we fall even more madly in love with the story. Now we are collecting pictures and shared memories of perfect vacations and life milestones. Now we have established rituals and routines that slowly become as familiar as the back of our hands. We have rules and expectations of each other, shared friends, and the expectations of our extended families. We have the house, the car, and the image of the happy, photogenic family to uphold. Indeed, we might fall so deeply in love with all of this that we tend to overlook the real person laying next to us in bed every night.

Love Story

But what happens when the person in bed next to you has thoughts and feelings that do not fit with the story you love? What if you have fallen so deeply in love with your story that you have forgottent to love the real person, with real feelings, messy thoughts, unreasonable dreams, and even crazy impulses that you fear might threaten everything? What if you find yourself growing apart in some ways? What if you discover that you are fundamentally different in important ways? Do you love each other more than the story, or do you block each other out to maintain the story? What if your partner doesn't behave in the way that your friends understand and approve of? What if he or she lies to your or cheats? Do you truly try to understand each other, accept the truth of what is, or do you force each other to get back in line so that you might desperately maintain the story you both love? If you love the person, why can't you just accept anything and everything about the person? This doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to feel how you do when your partner does something that hurts you, just that there are ways to express those feelings without hurting each other.

To be in love with a person is to achieve the highest form of happiness that can be found in this world. It is to know and accept someone completely, to share everything openly, to explore and grow together in complete openness and honesty. It is to be in a space where there is no friction, no power struggles, no agendas, no lies, no arguments, and no manipulation. And why do these terrible things happen in a relationship? They happen only because we love a story more than we love a person.

When a couple loves their story more than they love each other, they are willing to sacrifice each other's feelings for the purpose of the story. They don't want to hear about anything that falls outside of the boundaries of the story. They don't want to allow anything that is perceived to threaten the story. They control each other for the purpose of maintaining the story. They fight each other to coerce behaviors that support the story. They argue and debate so that they may convince each other to love the same version of the same story. They leave each other lonely, alienated, and choking in a life that leaves no room to grow, to evolve, and to experience anything that excites them. We tell each other that there are parts of us that are not acceptable. We forbid each other from exploring those parts. We take away each other's freedom to exist in this life for the simple reason that it may threaten a fucking story. So naturally, we begin to resent each other. We keep things from each other. We lie, we deceive. We cheat. Or maybe we just eat or drink ourselves to a slow death.

This is what will happen to you if you are with a person who loves your story more than he or she loves you.

To love a person is bliss. To love a story leaves us lonely and cold. To love a person is to accept and embrace every single thing about that person, unconditionally. It is to give each other so much understanding and acceptance as to feel more free, more yourself together than apart. Nothing is more wonderful in this world than for two people who find a way to give each other the freedom to be who they truly are. Remarkably, when two people love in this way, then the most perfect love story will inevitably flow from that love. It is possible to have your perfect love story, but you have to stop trying to control what that story is going to be. Just let go and try to love a person first. The story will follow and it may be even better than you imagined.  Most of us have this backwards and this is why we are miserable in our relationships. 

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.

False certainty

I have found that most people would rather live in a state of false certainty than accepted reality. The problem with false certainty is that, well, it is false. Your life is an illusion. If you cling to what you want to believe, see only what you want to see, and tell yourself only the stories that you want to hear, then you are cruising through life blindly and certain to fall. Your perceived reality has little in common with actual reality. False certainty may sustain the status quo for a while and may help you cope in the moment, but as a result you make bad decisions, miss opportunities, fail to grow and inevitably experience painful shock and surprise at every turn.

Reality can suck, but the only way you are going to make it suck any less is to embrace it, know it, and change it. If you want any real improvement, truth must be your starting point. Only when you understand your truth can you begin to respond in the ways that you care capable of responding. Here are some strategies to help you start moving in the right direction:

1) Let's start with your relationship realities. Do you embrace honesty and openness in your relationships or do you expect the people in your life to follow your rules and tell you what you want to hear? Encourage the people closest to you to tell you how they really feel about anything and everything. Ask them to be sensitive in their truths, but try to stay strong. Embrace and accept what they are telling you.

Do you really know what your kids are going through? If your normal reaction is outrage, disapproval ,or punishment, then you can be pretty sure that they aren't telling you. Do you know if your spouse is honest and faithful? If you have threatened divorce over non-monogamy and get angry when she expresses her truest, darkest feelings, then your spouse isn't going to tell you what's going on. 

Better to base your relationships on unconditional truth and acceptance and then do your absolute best not to freak out when the truth comes your way. The payoff is the bliss that comes from true closeness and the deeper sense of security that comes from knowing the truth about your relationships. It isn't easy to offer acceptance and unconditional love to the people we love most because sometimes the truth feels threatening. But the truth is the truth and it is better to know it. Besides, anything less than unconditional acceptance is something less than love.

2) Look at your financial realities. How much money do you have? Is your business really profitable? Does your job pay enough to support your lifestyle? How much debt do you actually have? Is it growing or shrinking? 

What are your goals? If you stay on the current path, are you going to do the things that you want to with your life? If not then what, specifically, are you going to do each month to make some progress?

If you are employed, then is your job really as stable and permanent as you like to believe it is? Is it not possible that your CEO is in acquisition negotiations right now and a layoff is coming next month? A job offers false certainty whereas a move to self employment may be scary at first, but ultimately offers a more certain reality that you have some control over.

3) If you are a student, do you know what to expect from your chosen field after graduation? Are you sure that you really want to continue down the current path? If not, make changes. If you are an artist or in any way creative, get honest reactions about your work. Are people loving it? If not, then knowing this is the starting point to getting better.

4) Be honest with yourself. Don't tell yourself that you are any greater or more special than you are. Also, don't believe that you are any less great or special than you are. Accept that which you actually are and start living your truth. Others will adjust.

5) What actually makes you excited? What makes you feel good to be alive and looking forward to a new day? Be honest with yourself and then do that thing. This is what nature wants you to do and there is no guilt or shame in following nature's call. This is your intuition, your calling, your destiny. Stop lying to yourself and accept the truth about what excites you.

Delusion

I hope that this post, in some small way, encourages you to become brave enough to step out of any false certainty in your life so that you may embrace what is, change what you don't like, and become what you are.

I would love your comments and feedback. Email me at mark@abscondoband.com.