Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Art of Being Yourself: Caroline McHugh at TEDxMiltonKeynesWomen

So the chances are you've look in at least one mirror today, you had a shave or you combed your hair, or maybe you checked your teeth for spinach, after lunch, but what you didn't know is that the face looking back at you is not the face that every body sees, it's a kind of reverse, distorted back to front image. Some years ago I was in a plane to New York and I read an article in the FT, and it was an article about a phenomenon called true mirror.The true mirror is actually invented by a brother and sister team call Don and Catherine Malters, and what they discovered is that if you take two mirror and you put them together at an right angles and you take the seem away the image going so for each other, and you see when you look in at true mirror is exactly what other people sees when they look at you. So I land in New York and I phone Don and ask him if I can go and see them and I end up in his gallery in Brooklyn, and It's like being in a sight show in a circus, it was true mirror, full length face size all over this gallery, and when I walk over to the true mirror for the first time and I look in the mirror, it was one of the most disorientated experience I ever had in my life.

The first thing you notice when you look in the true mirror is the your head not on straight, so yours is kind of going that way and yours is quite straight actually, so apparently we all tilt our head one way or another, so when your approach the true mirror first thing you try and do is fix your head, but because its reverse you go the wrong way, so it's very very disorientating, but more importantly I had a flash back to when I was a little girl, I grow up in Glasgow in case you haven't notice I am Scottish, but I grew up in Glasgow and my mom, she used to put her make up on I used to love sat and watching my mom putting her make up on, you know with my chin in my hand and I would tell her occasionally, isn't it funny that one side of your top lap is higher than the other side of your top lap, and she look in the mirror and she said, that is not, I said no it's only a couple of millimeter but that side of your cupit bow is definitely higher than the other side of your cupit bow, she said Carolin you are hithering, and when I look in the true mirror there was the lap, that I've been waiting maybe that time for forty five years and I never seen it.

So the difference is when you look in a regular mirror you look for reassurance, you look for reassurance that you are beautiful or you are young or you are tidy or your bomb doesn't look bad in there, but when you look in a true mirror, you don't look at yourself, you look for yourself, you look for revelation not for reassurance. and that was deeply interesting to me, because what I do for a living is I help people be themselves, not in any narcissistic or solipsistic way but because I believed social reformation begins always start for the individual. but when you look at remarkable individual and I say remarkable or successful I don't mean monetarily successful, I mean people that have been successful that achieve whatever they set out to do. You find the thing that they have in common is they have nothing in common. These are people that are work in many of the field that I work in, I work with people and corporation, I work with captain of industry I work with selective politician, I work with few physicist, I work with chamber orchestra and ballet dancers and pop stars and opera singers, and I've identify the trait that linked them, these are individual who manage to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and they put that to the service of their goals. I think we all come complete, we come complete with one true note we were destine to sing, and these are people that manage to figure that out, and it doesn't dictate your choice of job, what it dictate is how you do it, and when we see these people we invariably call them larger than life. Which always makes me smile, because how can you be larger than life?

Life is large, but most of us don't merely take up the space the universe intended for us, we take up the sweet space around our toes, which is why when you see somebody in the field full of their humanity its remarkable, that at least a foot bigger in every direction than normal human beings, and they shine, they glow, it's like they swallow the moon, and all the work I've done have lead me to belief that individuality really has all its cracked up to be, in fact people who are afraid to be themselves will work for those who unafraid.

Now your job is not to be anything like any other people that I put up behind me, in fact your job is to be as unlike them as you can possibly be. Your only job while you're here on the planet is to be as good at being you as they are at being them, that's the deal.

So I want to start by asking you an incredibly personal question, not the one that says why are there so many syllable in the wat monosilaby, no!in fact this is the question that been looking for you your whole life, its probably the simplest and the most complicated question you'll ever ask, and yet how many times in your life has somebody offered you that well meaning piece of advice that you should just be yourself, how many time have you said it to somebody else, one of your kid comes to you, or one of your teen comes to you and they tell you they're nervous, they're scared, they have to go and do something and they ..., and you said just be yourself, because when you're yourself you are fabulous. That will always resonate, because it's all we want to do, if you tell Johnny be himself, he doesn't want to be Marry, he's quite happy being himself, but is the use of the word "just" that I find interesting, because it will imply two things, number one that that was an easy thing to do, number two that was an original piece of advice you know John had never though of about himself.

When it come to being yourself, when it comes to be in this world, the minute you showed up the minute you incarnated, you were given the life sentence, now you don't know how long you got, maybe you got seventy years and I got sixty two, we no idea how long we got, although when you are born, to whom you are born, all these things have a certain influence or impact on how you become or what you you become. so IF YOU're born in Switzerland, chances are you got a long time to figure this shit out, if you're born in Zimbabwe or some part of Glasgow and I'm not kidding, you got significantly less time, so what I am talking about is not what your life expectancy is but what do you expect from life? and what is life expect from you? those are more interesting questions. and the two places in life where you are awesome at being yourself, you're fantastic at being yourself, one of them is when you're a kid, when you're a kid you're fantastic at being yourself, because you don't know how to disguise your differences, that's why you see kids in the beach, you know they are naked on to the age of five, suddenly at the age of six or seven they worn their bathing suit they worn their bikini,

Who's got a four year old boy? anybody got a four year old boy? I'll take a three year old, Hosea you got three year old boy. So I want you to imagine I go in to Eduardo class in school, and as a classic three year old boy, and I said to the boys who's the strongest boy in the class? What's gonna happen? Every hand right, every single hand will go up, they'll be competitively strong, if I go to the same class but it's full of seven year old boys the same question, they;ll say him, because they know by the time they're seven, he's the strong one, he's the fastest runner, he's the funny guy, he's the bully, society architect marriages right up to the age of five six seven eight, that's why the jesuits said give me a boy until the age of seven, and I'll give you a man, because that's the birth of consciousness, from then on you become more self conscious and by default less good of being yourself.

The other place you're fantastic of being yourself is when you are the wrinkly, because you can't be...because you get to that stage in your life you realize that there are more summers behind you than in front of you everything intensifies. You become more honest, you become less compromising, so you gonna tell people that I don't want this spinach I don't like it, I'm not going to eat it, and I don't like jazz so you can shut that noise off, and why that matters, I don't like you. We call that people eccentric, in fact what they doing is being authentic. In fact it's kind of like this ....where when you're young you're great of being yourself, when you're old you're great at being yourself, but the bit in the middle that's sometime is the most problematic, that's the bit where you have to socialize, you have to accommodate, you have to adapt.

So I've developed the I complex, the I complex is the model to help you figure out which are you mean when you say "I". You very familiar with the superiority complex, if you have superiority complex, you pretty much think that you're the most important person in the room, if you've got inferiority complex, you suffer from an over modest self regard, now these are both side of a fragile ego, one of them is about the delusion of grandeur the other one delusion of insignificance.

There's a third way of being in the world, and I call it interiority, this is one of my made up word. So the word interiority describe a particular disposition, and there's two reason that might be useful to you, number one, it's completely uncompetitive, if you have a superiority complex or you have inferiority complex, you need other people around. For the superiority complex, you need other people to be smaller, for the inferiority complex you need to suffer from I'm going to be found out syndrome, so somebody needs to find you out. Interiority is entirely unrelative, so to operate from this position of interiority, it's like a perceptual vantage point, it's a sensibility, it's an orientation, and it's the only place in your life, the only place in your life you have no competition. Try and find a comparison to yourself and you draw a blank, so I can talk to you about interiority till my tongue bleeds, or I could just show you what it looks like.

So I want to introduce you to a woman call Jill Scott, you may have it on your itune play list, but Jill is singing and she's just about to go on stage to perform, and incase you miss the question, there's a french film maker who is filming her, she's going on stage after Erykah Badu, and he says to her are you nervous? you know going on after Erykah Badu, I want you to listen what she says......ha ha ha ha, have you ever see me perform? I am the Lady Jill Scott, I am a poet, a singer, and a lot of other things! We all have our own thing, that's the magic, and every body come with their own sense of strength and their own Queendom., mines can never compare to her and her's can never compare to mine....

See you didn't even know you have a Queendom. That's what it looks like, when you fake it out on how to be yourself, there's some incredible liberty thing untragic way  to go through life, so you don't develop an identity that's predicated on being a patch work personality, you're not a composite, an amalgam of all your experiences and influences. You're not somebody boss or somebody mom or anybody anything, you're yourself. However the chances are, that there at least four of you sitting in a chair, so let me introduce yourselves.

The most visible you that you represent to the outside world is what everybody else think of you, and there are as many opinion of you as there are people, I want you to imagine that you are a big USB stick that you plug in to the world you show up on the desk top of the world, and that's the power of contact, if you don't understand that bit, being yourself is an no advice strategy, so of course it's important that you understand perception, but one of the thing I've notice in terms of gender, I am terribly un-tragically women,by the way I don't find myself tragically women, I disclaim myself as a womenist, rather then a feminist, but I'm also a card carrying feminist. There are very few things that I think is gender specific, but one of them is something I call approval addiction, the need to be liked, the need for approbation, or recognition, or for somebody tell you that it's ok, I find more women suffer from that affliction than man, and I think it's one of the most debilitating things, when it comes to being yourself, need another people approval, live in somebody else's opinion, and mistaken it for your own. one of the most debilitating thing will do on the road to being yourself, you will never ever be perceptionl-ess but it's important to be perception free.

One of the things that is going to help you to be perception free, is to tune in to the next circle of the I complex. So this is your wish image, this is what you will like everybody else to think of you and it's not about being fake or fat or pretending, it's about moving it's about possibility, it's about potential it's about sup-possession, so there's a part of you is like a back bone.this part of you us about you wish bone, there's want of you to adopt your personality, your construct self, and even that's unique, no body in the world has had the same experiences or influences that you have, but this is the you that keeps moving, that's keep changing all the time, and it help avoid being one of those people that, you know those people that told you they had 15 years experience when they means one year 15 times? They literally repeat themselves year after year after year, what I want you to think about is that every year your job is to be better and better and better, at being all you already are, this is not a cosmetic exercise, you already different, your job is to figure out how and then to be more of that. Now there's certain time in your life that lend themselves to change that make change quicker deeper, and I called them interval of possibilities. You know the occasion in your life that you sense that the potential for change is heighten, you meet a stranger in a bar, you get to decide what you gonna do, your boss comes to you and offer you a new job, you know what you want? you want to keep doing the same thing or you want this new job,and you know that if you make that change the speed of your life will change.

Unfortunately some of these intervention, some of these interval of possibility are catastrophic, in fact most of it is catastrophic cause most of them will rather sleep walk until something happen to wake us up. and what will happen is somebody you love will get sick, or you will get sick, or you get fired or maybe something impersonal, maybe is the 911 happen, or the tsunami happens ,or the earth quake in Kashmiri happens, that something happen that rocks you back in to that inner self and make you than ask the question I ask you in the beginning of the talk, now the problem is when this happen catastrophically, is your're vulnerable, you're weak, and my question is why you wouldn't ask yourself this question when you're strong, from the perception of health, when you are in a job, when you're loved that's when the question becomes more useful. So the question on this one is if you could be the woman of your dream who would you be? and my tongue no where near my cheek, when I ask you that question.

The thing that might stop you being the woman of your dreams is the next circle, and that's what you think of you, so now you've got what everybody else think of you, what you like anybody else think of you, and this is what you think of you., and you have good deeds and bad deeds right? There's days when you wake up you think you are the beastnees, another day when you wake up, and you can't even say your name even your cell phone feels too heavy, so on the days when you wake up and you feels that you are the beastnees, it's not even like you've got a reason, it's like free floating joy in your body just looking for a target and you know how it feels in those days, because pssst! you just think somebody give me an audience, quick point me somewhere and your hair's fabulous and everything just work, everything's works on those days but the other days nothing works, your legs don't work, your mouth doesn't work, what freak comes steals the entire of your vocabulary, those are two extremes of your ego and one of them is about self congratulation and the other on is about self castigation, now your entire life, I don't care who you are, I don't care how old you are, your entire life from birth up until now has been about building a stable relationship with your ego.

You need an ego to live in a western capitalist world, if you don't have an ego you'll be toss. But your challenge is to take the ego from it's dominant position and pull it back so that it's in service to yourself, that's when it becomes useful, in order to do that you've got to find the still point right in the middle of these two extremes. So that's what I will call equanimity, or equilibrium. And it became the state of mind that can not be perfume in any way by anything that happens outside you, this kind of confidence that comes from there is like the confidence of the sky, right now it is dark outside, but you know if you went out on a plane, even in the stormiest of day the sky is brilliant blue underneath, so when you look at the sky and it's made out of rainbow and it's absolutely gorgeous, there's no question that the sky out there going huh did you see my rainbow, or when it's terrible grey gloomy days the sky is going to apologize, no the sky just is, because the sky sees impermanence of the clouds and the impermanence of the rainbow, and you have to develop an inner state of mind that is impervious to all the good shit and the bad shit that that happens to you as the sky is to the whether. In the western context we would call that feeling of humility.

One day last week when I work with UK Sports and particularly I got to work with the amazing coaches, who work with the amazing Olympic athletes, who got all these amazing result of the summer Olympic it was incredible to be in the same room as four hundred of these people, and the woman who runs UK Sports were called Baroness Campbell, and she give me a good definition of humility she says humility is not thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking about yourself less. And I remember learning that lesson when I was small, probably no more than seven or eight...when I grew up in Glasgow, particularly working class, steel industry in Glasgow, nobody have any money so nobody can go out and be entertain, everybody's social life happen in the house and in the weekends all the wrinklys and all the kids would show up at people houses, and they would drink till the knee cap grow back words, that kind of stuff, but everybody at some point in the evening has to perform and it was a riot because these people were baskin out street  citizen and welders, and carpenters by day time but then they showed up at night time and become a Frank Sinatra, anf Dean Martin and Sara Vornon and Belly Akstin, and they were all in my house, and all the kids were taught to perform as well, my mother has four daughter I am the oldest, we were brought up at any age to perform, we will be wheel out at this family party me with my guitar, and my sisters around me and we have to sing, and we were terrible, we were absolutely rubbish, one night my mother come up to get us and we were all upstairs having pillow fighting she showed up,she says right Larsie, everybody go down and give a song and that night I was just overcome, I said I don't want to sing, she said why do you not want to sing? I said I am shy. She said what you shy for? I said well everybody is going to looking at me, and they'll never forget our face she looks at me and she says, Caroline! Don't flatters yourself darling, you think anybody downstair is going to be interested in you they're not, your jobs is to go and make them happy so go downstairs and sing, I said ok and I picked up my guitar and I picked up my sisters, you know that advice has never left me and what has left me with is spectacular disregards for where my ability ends and spectacular disregards for being the center of attention, in fact since that day I have never be the center of attention, you're the center of me, and that's a very different feelings..

So last the last you, the opposite of least is the ever present unchanging you this is the you that you've been since you were seven and the you that you'll be when you're a hundred and seven. I spend a lot of time in India, and in India you're raise with this feelings that you are a spiritual being who happens to be in a physical body.where we in the west much more into the physical body and than when we are old enough and long enough we kind of get interested in the spirit, but have you ever been to the Gandhi museum in Delhi, you'll know that this is the line above the door, and it is actually a respond by Gandhi to a question from a journalist. and Gandhi was getting on a train and the journalist called after him Gandhiji! Gandhiji! what's your massage to the world, and Gandhi turn to him and said, My life! My life's my massage. and your life is your massage too. Might not be as big a massage as Gandhi mine certainly isn't, but your life has to be your massage, other wise why are you here, it's not like you've got a spare, so when you think about your identity, when you think what it is to be alive, when you think about why you deserve to exist, you're not your thought, because you think them, you can't be your feelings, because otherwise, who's the you that feels them, you're not what you have, you're not what you do, you're not even who you loves or who loves you, there has to be something underneath all that, and when you look at people who have manage to transcend all these judgement that we put upon them, you know this man here(Obama), he couldn't be judged as a man or a black man or young or old or Democrat or Republican or a gay or straight, really really woudn't have matter, he knew why he was here, yes we can, so you see he seems to be a verb, and even when you're born without the attribute that some of your peers might have, even when you're born that may lead you to feel impotent, if you can tap in to that voice, if you can tap in to that inner voice that I've been talking about. You might just end up being a twelve year old, the youngest person to be called to the national world champion swim team, you might even end up at the age of thirteen being the youngest Olympian gold medal winner ever, you might end up at fourteen being the youngest person ever to get an MBA, That's what happen when you dial into the personal pruner, so if you can do this not only will the speed of your life get quicker, not only will the substance of your life get richer, but you will never get superfluous again.


Kay said...

Lovely and powerful. Thank you!

Anna said...

Thank you very much for the transcript!

Anonymous said...

Needed most for me

Unknown said...

Thank you for your teaching, I am learning and enjoying the process.
I love the coat you wear too, and would like to know who its maker is, inspiring.

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