Welcome, everyone to this week's edition of The Freedom Fridays podcast, where I have my guest today is Alison Cameron. Now Alison, actually were colleagues for a while, way, way back, one of the first colleagues, I had come into Australia and Alison has gone on a very different journey since then. She is a published author, she is published in many forms, I believe, which I'm looking forward to finding out. So it was a bit of a cue for me to, to catch Alison, at this point in her journey to ask all things about freedom. So Alison, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks so much, Pete. And so lovely to reconnect with you. I know
I've found my fault and your fault in everyone's fault. The pandemic has forced me to and given us an opportunity to reconnect with people. Yeah. In a way that we'd never have imagined before.
Yeah, yeah. There's lots of magic that can come through these disruptions, right. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. So Alison, I start the podcast with the same question. And it's really, in the work that you do and the people that you work with? What does freedom mean?
It's such an interesting question, Pete, it could be answered at so many levels. And I think it's very divergent. So if I was to ask that question of my client base, the response that they give would be more based on really where they are in their evolutionary journey. And so I think it would range from everything from freedom to be myself more freedom to have more sense of authority and autonomy and the decisions I can make as a leader and, and that could range from everything. You know, I have CEOs that I've worked with, for example, that feel stifled by the board. So I think, often, we think once you get to a certain role of leadership, then there's so much freedom and autonomy, and yet, it doesn't really exist. When we take our authority from a role. It does start to exist when we take our sense of authority more internally, and from a sense of our own internal compass. And so I think the commonality that would sit across all of the people that I work with, and I work with many leaders all around the world, from different cultures, different kinds of organisations and different contexts, would be the sense of, I'd like to be able to be more myself, whether that is their sense of being able to apply the values that they hold, do within their context more readily. And with less pushback or less resistance from the various systems, whether it be choosing my own work hours, and so I'm not such a slave to the round the clock meetings and and the demands the freedom to have more time for my family, or more time for my creativity. And yet, what sits underneath that, Pete, I believe there, there are two constructs. The first is the, the construct of our ego. And so what sits within that is I'd like to be free from limiting scripts, limiting stories of self that I have created to some degree or CO created with my external reality through my life, from my own limiting beliefs.
And then there's an important aspect that I think those of us who are very privileged often don't consider enough. And that is freedom from the scripts of our society. Freedom from the limiting beliefs of capitalism, for example, or economic structures and systems, political structures and systems, social structures and systems. And those systems that we exist in inform our internal dialogue or our internal story of self and vice versa. And so they're not two separate parts. They're actually part of a much larger system. And yet my sense is similarly to the movie, The Matrix where we want to get unplugged. Most of us at a deep level, whether we recognise it or not, we'd like to be unplugged. And so the people I work with might vocalise that desire for freedom and liberation in a multitude of ways. And yet that desire to be able to be more fully my myself more fully my true nature comes from, you know, from deep within, from a place that is often scary for people to even sit with.
Yes. Wow, alert. I'm gonna start with the immediate thing that strikes me. And almost the first thing you said, you know, being myself more. You know, you and I have explored that question for a long time and probably in different ways. And when we talk about that sentiment, I talk about a raise that sort of idea or concept with clients. There's often a recognition, yes, I want to be myself more. But I often wonder if they know what they mean by that. Yeah. So there's a calling there's a something there's an itch, there's a scratch, there's something that can go Yeah. But I don't know what it is. So for, could you just give us a take on when you when we talk about, you know, be yourself be myself more? What does that mean? What's missing? What are we not being? That's myself that is kind of hiding in the background?
First, I'd like to tackle the first part of what you just said, Pete, which is they don't know what that means. And I really resonate with that. In our world, we have taken away the value of asking the question, Who am I? And part of eroding that value has been the need to come up with some kind of a constructed mental rational answer to that question. But that question opens up a journey, actually. Right. And it's not a journey with a final destination, necessarily, while the coffin. Maybe? Maybe, maybe not. Right? Maybe that's just the beginning of a whole other inquiry. However, for air for a lot of people, the the beginning of discovering what is that, that I would like to be more of? It begins with asking that question, but to ask it without needing an answer. And to delve into that opportunity to explore. And you ask them later in, in, in what you were sharing about? What is it that's lacking. And I would say we are disconnected as humanity. So so that disconnection through our technological advancement has likely become stronger. We are relating more with screens, or through screens, many of us than with other human beings. And there's always something slightly artificial in those relationships, you can get them very close to deep authenticity. And of course, you know, sometimes I actually have to ask myself, have I met that person face to face yet? Because because we've created such a deep connection through technology. So So I'm not saying deep connection isn't possible. But it there's roadblocks to get through to make that happen. Right. Now, there's just one symbol of disconnection, that that was happening even before we had smartphones at our fingertips 24/7. And that is that we have disconnected with our wildness as human beings. We've disconnected from a non constructed creative force with that sense of true nature, the things that naturally come come out of us like I can't recall the actual the speaker, there was a beautiful TED talk on education. And one of the quotes in that and creativity, one of the quotes was we'll have to find it and put it in the link underneath this podcast. So can someone Yes, exactly. That we are not, we don't lose, we don't find our creativity, we lose it lose it, ironically, through education, through education, right? So if you look at a lot of our systems that have been constructed from a certain worldview, our education system, our justice system, our economic systems, our political systems, and that worldview, that we currently breathe in through all of these systems and institutions, including our education system. They're not liberating. They're not necessarily supportive of freedom in the human being of a human being getting to know themselves at a deep level and asking those questions Who am I because I tell you what, asking that question, Who am I we really go down that rabbit hole that you is a political statement and it is dangerous to status quo forces. It is dangerous to the power brokers that are currently reaping egoistic or materialistic benefits from holding these systems in place. Because as soon as we actually go down that rabbit hole, as soon as we start to unplug from that matrix, that's going to disrupt all of those systems that are already getting disrupted. Right, but it's going to raise them to the ground so something new can rebirth.
I remember years ago reading a book, I think it was Jack Kornfield. The title was first the ecstasy, then the laundry. Okay, I can't remember the the actual essence of it. My take on the title was, yes, you can seek and ask these beautiful questions around who am I? What's my contribution? What's my purpose at what evolutionary stage? And yet, for some, I'd probably argue most of us are in relationship with people, jobs, pets, families, societies, communities. And for me, the laundry part was, and yet I still gotta pay the electricity bill. And yet, I've still got to eat. And yet I've still got to fix the roof, because it's really all that kind of pragmatic. Her necessarily to some degree stuff. And yet, here's me on the other side going, yeah. And Pete, I am. It's a, it's a real, I struggle sometimes with that balance. Yeah. And I would argue, even I don't even know if I've ever got it in balance. Yeah.
Maybe it's because we think we need to, or we see them as two contradictory forces, right? When I hear first the ecstasy in the laundry. Well, laundry needs to get done regardless. But But I can either feel constrained by that action, or my interior state of liberation can be non affected by by that activity. So I don't see it as as a polarity that we have to balance I see the laundry is an activity that can be infused with soul. Interesting, infused with ecstasy. And by infusing that activity with the ecstasy of my inner liberation, then the opportunity for I don't know, even better laundry outcomes become available. I might innovate my laundry routine through that ecstatic dance I do with it.
So I again, I'd be a welcome your observations, then? Based on my comment, would that suggest that in that moment, in this Congress, at that time, I was seeing, you know, just a metaphor of the ecstasy in the laundry as a polarity as opposed to something that's interdependent?
Well, from what you were saying, you were saying, you haven't found the balance that I, I find the, whenever we come up with his idea of needing to balance something often isn't an either or thinking, I don't know, you tell me. Is that what how you're approaching it.
I don't know what I was approaching it with my comment around, I rarely find the balance is I rarely find that wherever the ends of any polarity or if there's a three dimensional four dimensional one. It's rarely at, it's really still, it's always oscillating one way or the other. So the circumstance, I'm laid a little bit by circumstance. If this requires attention, then that requires attention, which which is making me think of, you know, again, that simple but profound, and never asked, never ending. Seeking of the answer. Even if there is an answer, like you sit there probably isn't, you know, be yourself more if I start with well, who are up on me? Or while I'm Pete, and well, I'm a father, I'm a husband, I'm a colleague, I'm a friend. And, and, you know, I don't know, a dozen or so different roles that I play. Yeah. Is there something, again, not directionally, but is there something above or beneath that, that brings that all together?
My experiences? Yes. Okay. Yeah.
So as soon as we identify with name or role, to me, that's a very limiting construct. When we were born at our first breath, there was an essence in the same way you know, if you would like to use the archetype of a tree, the essence of the whole tree is in the seed. When we were born, we didn't have a role. Some of us didn't have a name. Some of us already had a name that was chosen. And, but But for many of us, we didn't and yet there was still a natural self there was still an essence there of But perhaps, you know, unmanifested in, in our, in our, I guess material existence as yet an essence there to be expressed and in the same way as it was. So Kenneth that you said, you know said that we don't learn creativity, we unlearn it, I think we unlearn who we are, we unlearn that sense of essence. And we have to so that process isn't wrong. And in every society and every time there's been an experience of in culturalization, right, where we learn social norms, we learn how to, you know, fit in, in a certain construct, how to do the laundry in the time that we're born into, and, you know, if we continue on that metaphor, et cetera, et cetera, and that's a particular stage and a particular phase of life. And I think for a lot of us, we get stuck there. So once we learn how to do the laundry, well, we learn how somewhat and some people never learn, and that's okay too. But we learn how to somewhat navigate our existence, we kind of stop there, and we stop with role and name and we seek to, you know, I guess, do the very best we can with that, within that construct. And yet, there's a whole other world we can open into. And for me, that's, in my book, I call that beyond level a leadership, if we're looking at it from a leadership perspective, and that is stepping into the realm of soul and, and to a large degree, while we can still use the skills that we were, we had to use to become, you know, respectful, effective members of a society, we no longer are constrained by those tools and skills, yes, so we can use them and yet our consciousness is beyond them. And in fact, it opens up a whole other journey. And my argument would be that what is keeping us in a, in a, in a very challenging time as humanity is that we have become very happy with staying in the status quo of, of this very rational, very dry, very commercial, very, I guess, you know, people would call it a masculine sort of patriarchal type of mindset, without moving into the mystery. Yes, so we've kind of rationalised ourselves out of the mystery. And for me, where we move beyond the idea of, I'm now doing the laundry, I'm now in ecstasy. And it's either more of one or more of the other and into integration of those forces is where we start to see things in a very circular way, which is far more feminine. If we look at the traditional feminine, right? So in that circle, there might be some more laundry and some more ecstasy, but they're not counterbalancing each other, they're just part of a circular experience. And that ecstasy or consciousness travels with us right through the circle.
What What struck me in what you said is there's a couple of things. Let me let me ask the first one. Are we happy in the status quo? Or is the mystery so uncertain? I'm not willing to risk it.
What's your experience at that peak? For me, it's more the latter.
And I've tied that to a personal thing without revealing any confidence, or anyone listening. tied to this. There'll be many times, many times sounds like it's all day, every day. It's not. But in personal situations, and particularly in client interactions.
If I'm really me,
and really say what I'm thinking and feeling,
I probably wouldn't get many engagements. And personally,
because, you know, part of the exploration I've gone through of myself, is I'd love to get deep with Alison quickly, right, let's, let's do the cliche. How were you? How's the weather? Yeah, you know, let's get into fears, hopes, dreams and concerns as quick as we can, because that's what I want to talk about. So, personally, sometimes I can't, and I do it deliberately. I can be really inappropriate. Because I'm trying to provoke people out of the comfort. I'm trying to provoke them out of the state. I don't necessarily agree with the provocation, but I'm doing it just to stir the pot. And of course, that bumps up against ego uncertainty and all of the things that means that's no upsetting. That's no, you know, not that unnecessarily offending or offensive. But that can be taken that way because it's staring them into look in the mirror to these questions like, Who are you? And like we say, sometimes that's not my it's not my role, or I don't have permission to even ask the question
in that moment in that time,
so much in what you've just said, Pete, the first piece I'd love to share a perspective on is the idea that if I was fully myself and said exactly what I was on my mind, I wouldn't get the get the gig. You know, and and I guess underneath that, I wonder if it's, you know, I break the relationship in some way. I don't know if that's, that resonates for you. The relationship would not be Yeah, on a pragmatic level of salvageable at that pragmatic level. Yeah. And I guess my approach to that is, is more of an interior approach. So So my experience of being myself fully in every interaction is not determined on am I speaking what's in my mind. It's mi fully in my heart. Yeah. operating from my essence, yet my sense of truth, and also cognizant of what the appropriate intervention is, in this moment in time to support that person, that system that team, that situation to its next stage of evolution. Now, if that's a provocation, I'm very blessed in life, not because I've had money, but because I have not had a drive around money. And while I haven't had vast amounts of intergenerational wealth supporting me, in my life, I have had the privilege of being white. Yeah, being an Australian. And being born in Australia, regardless, you're already in the 1% most wealthy people in the world, even if you're living on government benefits, let's put that in perspective. And also coming from an upbringing where I didn't have to worry about food being put on the table, right, so So, so I have to acknowledge all of that privilege, and opportunity that that has enabled me
also feel a sense of, I can take risk in this space, of all, always taken risk in regards to money. Because for me, I'd rather than sell my soul, even a fragment of it for $1. And that's always been, you know, the deep, the deep sense that I've had, and which is also, you know, I think, a real privilege, because that enables me to take risk. So if inside of myself, I perceive that the intervention required to support that group towards the next stage in their evolution is a provocation, then it will be a provocation. However, if my sense is actually what this group's net needs now is just a safe space to explore what is currently on their mind, and that's the foundation that's required, and maybe provocation happens in six months, then I'm not going to vomit. What I perceive onto that group, for the sake of the relief that that gives me, and so I think that's, that's a that's the most the approach that that feels resonant for me. And I think for this comes back to that question of authenticity, because this word authenticity, authentic leadership has been, you know, popularised, and as soon as something becomes popularised, and commodified, it often takes it down to its most basic, primitive, not primitive, in a naturalistic sense, but non complex. Yeah, non-systemic resonance, and I think for a lot of people, they just go, I'm just gonna vomit my, my thoughts and feelings on you. And that's authentic. And that's authentic leadership, right? Yes. And I would argue that there needs to be a little bit more nuance in that because that might be authentic, but it's not leadership. Because leadership is being able to from my perspective, you know, a it's being able to come from our naturalness from leadership qualities like compassion, patience, patients, bringing perspective right? And being able to see a system or a person or a team's potential and know what nourishment to give it at any given stage in time and sometimes you might need to cut down the tree, but most of the time it just needs some water or some fertiliser or may be some of the surrounding weeds need to be removed. So yeah, I think that that, like psychological safety, which I have a real problem with where that's gone in the vernacular, authentic leadership, you know, just so many of these terms have been misinterpreted and dumbed down, so that when we use them, we we really don't know what we're talking about.
And I, you know, I, you know, to use the analogy, I'm, I would probably, I position myself as only on the next page. And I see it so often with things like authentic leadership, psychological safety, growth mindset. It's been so popularised and dumbed down that actually the words that are being used is completely counter to what some of the original definitions. That's right. And it's, it's fascinating and frustrating.
It is, it is,
it is fascinating and frustrating. So, so Pete, I mean, you know, you started by saying you know, that, that perhaps it will break the relationship, my experience of, of when I really tune into not just what's in my own consciousness, but what's appropriate to the other party, is I haven't lost too many relationships through that journey, and the ones that I have lost have probably been a beneficial loss for me. Certainly.
Yeah. I mean, I was, I was exaggerating a little bit, I think the key word for me. No, I hear that. Yeah. Yeah, there's nuance. It's knowing when and where and how and with who, and, and coming from a place of, you know, compassion, love connection community. If that's the intention, I might ask or tell ya, I might be silent or say something. And yeah, I don't know, necessarily. we ever get that? Absolutely. Right. But my sense is, if we come from that place, usually that's what's picked up. Yeah, whether we get the question, right. That's right. Maybe, maybe not. But it's more, there's some there's a deeper sense of connection between two or more humans. That picks up that energetic intention.
Yeah, I'm not doing I'm not provoking you. Out of my sense of ego. Yeah, or what's good for me. I'm provoking out of a sense of care for you. And that's what I'm hearing you say? And, and, and absolutely, I would, I would have a strong resonance with that,
again, to any any, any of my clients that are listening would go, you don't do that. Pete, I got, yep, you're right. There is some ego in there sometimes, inevitably. And I'd be interested in just you sharing your thoughts on that, because the word ego is an interesting word. And again, I'm sure it's used in many circumstances where it's not really fully understood. And when you say, even in a group setting, to even build some sense of safety and conversation, and you mentioned, you know, our egos are here to protect us. You can almost see people, you know, bristling and gone, I don't have an ego. I'm not egotistical, and it's level we all are, you know, it's not a bad thing. Yes. So do you have a Do you have a view on how someone might navigate that?
the sense of ego that we have won, and it's there for a reason. And it's sometimes a helpful reason. Yeah.
The challenge with ego is when the ego is unhealthy. Right, so that our unhealthy ego can manifest very narcissistically. And by the way, this narcissism is fed by our consumeristic materialistic driven society, right? So so please, no one Listen, feel like it's your fault.
Yeah, we can blame.
We can blame these external systems. But, but it is our responsibility once we have an ego and a construct and a story of self, then when, as adults to know what to do, as at its extreme through arrogance, as you just shared, you know, this sense of egotism, or through massive self doubt is the same force at different sides of polarity here. So for people who, for people who say, Oh, you know, I really don't believe in myself, and I don't feel I have anything to offer. I'm not confident that is ego. That is the same self protective ego manifesting at one side of the polarity. As someone who says I'm overconfident, I always get things right. Both are signs of unhealthy egos. If we think about ego, as the personality construct that's that that's been created. One level of it is self protective, of course. Now, we can, if we think of the ego as like a horse, and I haven't done a lot of horse riding, but my daughter when she was young, she was really into horse riding. And so I did a couple of tricks with her. And we, you know, I've been exposed to that a little bit. And when you're riding a horse, you have to let it know where to go. And what to do. We think of the ego as a horse, right?
Is the ego writing us? Or are we
writing the ego, we also need to form a relationship and connection with that horse. We need to have respect and love for it, we need to feed it, we need to brush it, we need to wash it all of those things. So it's not about making the ego wrong. But it's about being able to observe it. And if we can observe that ego, then we know we're bigger than that. Construct. The very fact that we can observe as self protective thought, I can observe I'm overconfident. And look some people completely wedded to their ego and can observe it. So the first skill we teach is observation, observation of your thoughts and feelings questioning is that the only thought or feeling that might be possible in this situation, right? But for most people, it's quite easy to develop an opportunity to observe that ego at play. How can we then help that ego to be healthy? By healthy it doesn't mean overconfident and in a narcissistic, psychopathic tendency kind of mode. But it also doesn't mean that I am a doormat. Right? I'm able to have discernment in my world. And then I start that that Who am I question needs to go beyond the ego? And when the Who am I question goes beyond the ego, then we start to find a different source of power. And then lovingly, we can start to in the same way that we might mould some clay into a beautiful pot, we can look at that ego and maybe it's a bit of a mess right now. But we can create something of beauty out of it.
Okay, I'm gonna take you back a little bit, because I'm going to be a little bit indulgent here. And I hadn't connected the, I guess the popularised version of vehicle to some of the other sites. Now, I would confess that I've probably been, in many situations, you know, arrogant, and you know, blah, blah, blah, the kind of unhealthy. My ego probably has shown up there. On many occasions, I hadn't connected it to the other side, which is fear, uncertainty and doubt. And yet that's prevalent right now, in me in many situations, and I hadn't connected it to ego at all.
And so if you ask the question, you don't need to do it now. But this is for listeners as well. What is that arrogance protecting me from?
So on the arrogance side, or the fear side,
on the arrogant side, when I need when I have the need to be overconfident or arrogant. And you mentioned earlier that the ego can be self protective. Pete What is what is that arrogance protecting?
Well, we know again, where I'm going is more historically, I would have been arrogant. Yeah. You know, some might say, you are no enemy. But more. I'm more interested for me doing a little bit of exploration on the fear side.
Okay, so I was asking a leading question. So apologies for that. But let me make it really explicit for the listeners. So mostly people that have gone to the arrogant side have gone there, because they're protecting themselves from uncertainty and fear. So the fact that you're now experiencing more of that uncertainty and fear P is that you're leaning in, it's a beautiful, from my perspective, evolutionary step. Doesn't feel right. I understand that. Because you're diskens You've deconstructed some of that self protective mechanism that probably wasn't serving you or the people around you to some degree. And now the opportunity is to like be really be with from my experience that fear and uncertainty and inquire into it and and experience, you know, what, what riches that can bring? Yeah, and then find a different sense of confidence. And I'm not just talking about you now, Pete I'm really thinking about the broader listeners. And in my book leadership For the new millennium, there's a chapter on humility. Right? And, and we talk a lot in that chapter about false confidence. Yeah. Which often looks like arrogance.
Yep, false humility,
which often looks like, of self doubt, manifests as self doubt. But true humility comes from self knowledge. And a very accurate understanding of self to the degree we can have it. And true humility actually has has a high degree of confidence in it. Yeah, that confidence of knowing who who I am to some degree?
Yeah. Yeah. But that's,
that's interesting, and confusing and perplexing, and, yeah, that's caused some thoughts, well, articulated, and unresolved thought, good. At this point. I've always
good. And this is, I mean, as you know, Peter nine, you would have said to many of your clients, when we get to that point of confusion, we're at the point of breakthrough, because abnormal neural pathways have been disrupted. We've heard something that has unsettled even the cells in our bodies, in a sense become, yeah, so But in that, in that experience, space gets created for something new. And I think, you know, coming back to what do we need to be free from I think one of the things that we need to be free from as human beings to reconnect with our true nature is answers. With so obsessed, aren't we in our western kind of model of thinking with quickly find the answer, quickly find the solution in the space between that confusion and the solution. If we can stretch that out and be there for longer, a lot more insight can come and then our solution won't just be to this one piece, will find a solution that lifts the holes that we're part of right, whether that hole is our whole self, our whole consciousness, or our whole family, or our whole community, or our whole team, or our whole work workplace. We all have have these holes, or these larger holes that were a part of, yeah. And we spend so much time remediating or finding answers to these bits, that we lose sight of the evolutionary waves that we could serve.
Yeah, maybe four or five years ago, I came across the conscious leadership group, I don't know if you're familiar with them. And this principle of moving from the world is done by me to the world is happening through me. Yeah, so that was a pivot moment now probably stayed in the same place, but looked in a different direction. And so far, you know, four or five years already, I've been pondering, wandering, exploring, experimenting, you know, expressing a little bit more living in a world happening through me as opposed to by me. And it's bloody hard. Yeah. It is bloody hard when you're trying to live a pragmatic existence in society as a husband, a father, a caregiver, an income provider, a friend or colleague and mate, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Let the world happen through you. Yeah. Because when what's happening through you is not supporting the pragmatic side of you. Cheese, it's so easy to go what a lot of bollocks This is. Yeah.
How do you know what's coming through you isn't supporting? I don't.
I don't. And so I reckon I compare as best as I can, you know, myself today, compared to myself four or five years ago, my response to anything, any suggestions of coming through would have been to double down on by me. Work harder, sort of allow, push yourself, don't be an idiot. Get over it. Yeah. You know, when you've been, I guess, the other side of ego representation, because I can fix it because most of my identity or certainly a strong part of my identity and journey today. It has happened by me. So I'm not kind of we all are but not often in world happens to me. It's very much right. I'm going to make it happen. Yeah. And, you know, evolutionary for me, I came across this next stage. And as I, I wouldn't even say I'm leaning into I'm looking into as opposed to leaning in, when you're in now. moment and those times when things aren't necessarily going your way, or the expectations that you might have for ABC, and I can think of three. I won't mention them, but three specific things, personally and professionally, that I'm going, Oh, my God, it's falling apart. Right, I need to, I need to get some things done. I need to make this happen. Yeah. And that is such a tough conversation with myself. Because there's part of me going no, no, this is this is all part of it. You mentioned in one of your book, ego tests. Yeah. I'm saying to him, this is an ego test for me. Yeah. It's bloody hard to pass the test.
Yeah, and sometimes, you know, it takes a few times of failing and realising on the other side that winning, winning for the ego didn't actually get what it wanted in the first place. Yeah. Right. to then be able to, to overcome that, you know, I'd like to come back to this either concept of either or.
It's either by me or through me.
What's on my interpretation was, yeah, there's gonna be parts that are the world's happening to me, right? Yeah. I'm not going to let go entirely of all of the things that have made me in my definition successful because that's happened by me. Yeah. However, it's become overwhelming and too much pressure on yada, yada ends up exploring happening through me. Again, I don't want to put it into a binary. Well, let's make it nearly 20 Then, or, you know, I don't I don't mean that. But I mean, exploring ways situations, circumstances where I'm able to sit with the discomfort, I'm able to stick with the fear I'm able to sit with the disc, the the, the vulnerability and the shame. Yeah. Without trying to fix it. Yeah, in the ways that I'd normally have fixed it 10 years ago. Absolutely. Which were perfectly, it would seem relevant for them. Yeah. But not so maybe necessarily relevant for now? Because I'm different.
Yeah. So you're from what I just heard and correct me if I'm wrong, you're experiencing this through me. As things that kind of happen in my world, whether it be an internal movement, or an external movement of things falling away or being disrupted, and rather than going straight into fixing it, I'm allowing myself to sit with the discomfort.
Yes. Again, that's what's hard. Yes, yes, I am. Boy, that's hard.
Might I paint a picture of what might be on the other side of that?
And in the same way, as we discussed polarity earlier, as you know, the ecstasy in the laundry, and then if we come into seeing a circle, right, as, as we become okay, with not fixing as as the the fixer ego can start to deconstruct I think this is a beautiful stepping stone what you're doing right now, Pete, this sitting with this being with this uncertainty, what can emerge on the other side, is this sense that what comes through me, is also by me. So that separation can start to connect. And so in that sense, what comes through me isn't just the stuff that gets disrupted on the outside or the inside, it might be an insight, it might be a solution, but that solution is coming from a different level of consciousness. It's not coming from the ego, let's fix it. It's coming from the let me sit silently, and ask the question, connect with my inner voice. Yes, some people might call that at the intuition or the higher self, or those different levels of consciousness that we can have access to or our authentic self, not the authentic ego self is another authentic self. Let me place the thing I'm struggling with in front of that extraordinary universal source, whatever that might be. And just ask the question, and perhaps an insight will come and you will then as a human being and as a healthy ego pick up that insight and do something with it, put it into action. And this is where I've seen you know, and you might already be doing this Pete it to some degree I imagine you are is that as we start to apply our activity, the buy me from a different level of consciousness, that separation of through and by is healed. And I say heal because it feels like a healing because uncertainty and vulnerability is no longer associated so much with the shame and it's a cracking open into something creative.
Yeah, hadn't connected. Yeah, haven't connected the insight from through me to, then I can take something and make it happen.
There's a I think, you know, the way again, we're educated and particularly in the West. We are taught to compartmentalise a lot. Yeah. Yeah, this is the way our brain. And there are some wonderful, I mean, gosh, I loved it a couple of months ago, I saw it in my spice cupboard. And then I got a label maker, and started labelling all the spices. And I every day I open that cupboard and I have such a sense of joy with that compartmentalization and the labelling of the spices, it's just a thing of beauty. So I love a good compartmentalization. But when we, when we bring it so much into our sense of self, I think we miss out on the holism. And I've been really lucky in my life to be exposed to, you know, the wisdom of indigenous people in Australia and all around the world and, and to work with different cultures. And I think quite naturally, I had more of a holistic sense of seeing the world I had a, I was probably a bit neurodivergent from a young child. So I've always been a marginal thinker, I've always seen things a bit differently. And I've always felt more of a resonance with a different kind of more indigenous more Eastern worldview. So this stuff has been more easy for me. Right? And, and in the same way, as some people would gifted artists or gifted speakers, I don't see it's just something that was in me it was it was it was something that I didn't have to work very hard for, right. And that's a great blessing. But that sense of seeing things from a hole, and seeing the interrelationship of things, to me, allows me to move from tangible to intangible worlds as an effortless flow, the laundry and the ecstasy are all part of the same life, the uncertainty and the confidence merge and work together in beautiful ways. And in fact, I think in my book, I talk a little bit about, you know, this idea of being in Yang, well, they're both part of a circle. Right, I think so often, we're either identified with the Yang with that might be more of a by me, traditionally, or the Yin, which is through me with failing to see those little eyes in both sides of the ying yang. They each exist in each other. And more than that they're part of a circle, they're part of a whole. And in the same way, as when I dance tango, you know, years ago, and it was just so lovely. And you know, as a female, I was just able to let the male lead me in that dance. But I also needed to hold my centre and my core and you know, and be part of that we need to participate with that dance and see it as a dance. Yeah. And in that dance that the two opposing forces create something of beauty, once we see that once we're able to get them to work together, but that's hard. That's difficult.
Yeah. Yeah, that's been my experience, you know, since I've been exposed to that information and some of those experiences, particularly when it you know, circumstances or events or things happen that you can go up. I didn't, I didn't really deserve that. But it's happened. Yeah. Oh, how have I contributed to that? And you know, that constant peering in the mirror, yeah, can be exhausting.
And I think in the West, it's become pathologized. Okay, so the, the self examination has become part of this whole narcissistic construct. And I remember a phase of my life when I was really into personal growth and development, you know, when I was very young, and you'd like it was like, No, this is actually it's taking me out of the sense of holism. Right? I'm getting so self obsessed with, you know, all of these bits. Yeah, great. Okay, something's happen. A, what's my part of the mess? Let's take even if it's 1%. Let's take responsibility for it. Because sometimes stuff just happens. And sometimes other people are assholes. Right. And our responsibility was, I didn't actually pay attention to the fact that that person was an asshole. And I'm going to do more of that in the future. Yeah, right. So I think sometimes, you know, and this is where I love working with whole systems with larger systems with communities with the world, you know, rather than you know, just on myself, it because I don't see a separation between the two number one. Number two, there's a big wide world out there that I can get interested in. And, and, you know, I love what you said, you know, when something happens that causes me to self reflect. I, my experience of a lot of Westerners who get hooked into personal growth is it can become unhealthy at a point. Yeah,
I sense that inward looking, right? Yes. Yes. Yeah. And so again, the work comes to me in nuance. Yeah, about when to when not to. I can't remember what the part of your books or maybe you can remember what I was reading, some of what struck me was, quite a few years ago, my wife was diagnosed or potentially diagnosed with some serious disease. And so we've only just started exploring this. And we said, okay, so if this is the case, and we actually named some people at the time, who we would go, we don't really want them around. Yeah, we're gonna get a move from that energy. Yeah. Which was even an interesting conversation for us to have. It subsequently turned out, she didn't have the disease. And yet, we didn't put into place the, the removing ourselves from the energy part, which we've reflected on a number of times over the years and kind of gone. Why, why did we do that? And I guess that's partly our sense of, you know, ego protecting us and trying to fit in. And I think it was a bit about you mentioned about fitting in. And if I put that into a work context, or in a personal context, it's probably easier for you and I to connect, that it would be for you and i plus one other. I'm guessing and then you and I plus two more. And then six of us. Have you found that gets even harder? The more people there are?
Or, actually is easier? Such an
interesting question, I haven't really thought about it. So you know, that'll that'll be something I ruminate on. Honestly, I only really pay attention to fitting in with myself these days. Not in a narcissistic way. But in the sense of, you know, if I'm here being myself, to the best of my ability, with compassion and love for the people around me, then that's really I don't really think about the ingredients. And I feel quite at home in in a variety of spaces. And so when you say, Is it easier for us to connect you and me? Or would it be more difficult with a third person? I mean, there's another perspective in the room, there's another energy there's another whole person to, to consider. However, it hasn't really been my experience, actually. I mean, there is a difference between one on one conversation and I love one on one conversation. It's I wouldn't say it's more difficult or harder. It's just, it's something different. I think when there's other people in the space have of what you said about your wife, and I'm so glad that she's well and healthy. That's wonderful news. I think so often as human beings, we wait until it's complete crisis to make the choices we know in our hearts are healthy. And we see this on a macro scale. If we look at the way we've treated our beautiful home planet.
Rather than looking holistically at the fact that if we're going to transform the pollution that we're creating on the planet, we need to start with the pollution of our consciousness, we need to start with our worldviews with our relationships like how, how on earth would you pollute the planet? If you feel like you're in a deep loving relationship with it? You would not. There's something very flawed about about our worldview, our thinking that's led to the current cataclysmic we're facing as a humanity but we need to start at that level. And that's that beautiful quote by Einstein we can't solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that's created we have to go broader, higher more holistic. And Pete You know, that example you shared I think is just priceless in that I'm sure everyone listening and I'm sure myself included. We've got those examples, where right now we know what we should be doing. And yet we are risking ill health or or non emancipatory situation shins, yeah. Coming back to freedom Fridays, non fraying situations. And we play that off against what staying a bit safer and more comfortable for a few moments. While we're the frog in the in the water boiling and getting caught.
Yeah. I'm gonna pick up on a concept because I, I liked the idea of this. And I'm interested to two questions,
fitting in with yourself
as a concept, which I love. I'd love to explore that a little bit. But I'm going to start off, because I know in your book, you've talked about rituals and practices. Question one binary question, is there a difference? What's the difference between a ritual and a practice if there is one? And then secondary question, what would be some practical rituals and practices one could do that would help one fit in with oneself?
Lovely, thank you. What beautiful questions, practising ritual, from a language perspective, I think we could get overly intellectual about it. So let's not go there. The word ritual for me is something I like to use because it contains a sense of sacredness.
in the book, I describe actually the difference between a ritual and not a practice but a habit. When something becomes a habit, for many of us, it becomes unconscious. So most of us don't consciously brush our teeth, unless we've just been to the dentist, and they've told them to
the dentist, floss.
Or there'll be problems. And then for maybe for most of us for a few weeks to a month, we'll be a bit more conscious about it. But for most of us, our habit yet becomes something quite unconscious, for a practice or a ritual to maintain power and to be liberating, induce freedom, emancipation, it should be something that carries sacredness with it each time we do it. So our level of conscious pneus with it. So it's just as thrilling to brush my teeth tomorrow as it was today, because I'm bringing that presence to it. So you know, I certainly am an advocate of meditation. I have been meditating since consciously since I was around 13 years of age. And that was a long time ago. Now this is grey hair for people who are single. And, and I have meditated every single day done a meditation practice now for 24 years, I believe, no matter what's been happening in my life. And at a certain point, I tipped that into I still sit for meditation, certainly every day, even if it's for a minute. But you know, it taps into meditative living. And I think for too many people, they have a meditation habit, who meditate, where they sit and do whatever they do whatever practice they do, and it's not become a ritual, they don't come to it fresh with curiosity with vulnerability each time. And so it stays on the meditation cushion, or it stays in that section. But there's no good doing that kind of meditation unless it starts to really spill into meditative living. And what is that it's being fully present, and alive and fitting in with oneself and connected to our broader whole in any given moment, including when we're doing the laundry, which means that we're experiencing the ecstasy as we're doing the laundry to come back to the beginning of the conversation. And, and so, you know, I would say, you know, yes, I do I sit and meditate every day, yes, even if it's just for a minute. And yet I don't see again, a polarity between sitting and meditating and everything else I do in my day, which is from that same spontaneously arising space of presence. So I am an advocate for meditation, but not if it's commodified, mindfulness practice, to try to help you to push down your feelings and dissatisfaction with our capitalistic materialistic society and stop you from opening up the question who am I? Meditation should be an inquiry into how can we be more natural and more flourishing as human beings?
Sorry, turns out you've been a fantastic distinction for me, particularly in the in the field of meditation, because I've I've known about meditation for years, and I've practised it on and off for years. And actually, probably a year before the pandemic hit, I began practising more often, and I've now developed a habit. I've just clicked over for 400 and first day to day of daily meditation. ranging from two minutes to 20, whatever it might be. But the distinction you've made for me is, it's become a habit, but not a ritual. So I now do it every day. But I don't bring the present Ness. I don't bring the sacredness. Yeah, too often enough. And, again, if I take that, beyond that, it certainly doesn't necessarily translate into meditative living. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I've, I've, I've done the first thing. I've made it into a habit. Wonderful, wonderful. Which is great. I think it's really great.
It's live in it. Yeah,
yeah, the next thing would be but the sacred so because I, again, full confession that sometimes I will be meditating, which sounds ridiculous, as I'm firing up a laptop. Yeah. Which light is such an incongruence?
Well, not if it's built into middle meditative living, because then you're meditating as you're firing up your laptop. So if you come to me and say, Alison, I haven't had a worrying thought for three years, and I'm in full meditative living, and I meditate as I find my laptop up, then I'll believe you. But yeah, I get what you're saying. Yeah, you know, as we develop it, because we're also changing the way our brain works. And this is the wonderful thing about having more scientific understanding in the western construct of the way our brain works. Because what ancient sages has been have been telling us for millennia, is now being proven by science. And so you know, to sit and meditate each time we do that, yeah, we're rewiring our brain, we're changing our neurophysiology. And so that's super important. And also to create that space. You know, the ritual, I always love a good morning and evening ritual. And a lovely evening ritual is just to review the day. And you might be working on something in particular, so you know, whether it is to fit in with myself more, yeah, we can get to that in a minute. And, and how did we win today? Did I really get that sense that I was fitting in with myself, you know, and what that means is this sense of, you know, I was I was in my heart, I was feeling a sense of centre. I was being true truthful with myself.
And hopefully with others,
yep. Sometimes with filters, because we don't want to provoke people when it's not the right time for them. You know, the, you know, when was that time that I really had that sense? And, and when what when, didn't I? Yes, so when, when did I feel out of touch with myself or like I was trying to fit in more with others than then myself or more with a system that myself and just to observe that without judgement. So we can just do that day review? forgive ourselves for when we weren't quite where we want it to be? Yeah, no judgement. Just okay. That was interesting. Taking from it. That's really interesting. That was fascinating. Right? And, and, you know, have a moment of really recognising without judgement again. Oh, okay. Those were the moments when I felt really strong in myself felt really centred, feel very much in my heart. Okay, what can I learn from that, and then just put the day down, write down anything else remaining, is I think we don't get good sleep a lot of us because we carrying our de stress and our day learnings into our night, so I night, we just processing all that stuff. And then we wake up tired. And then a beautiful morning ritual, even if you've got one minute, two minutes, and look, people listening. I've run businesses, I've had children, I've been through all the hideous traumas of life, right? Just so you know, I get how it's hard sometimes to find even a moment of your day and all of that stuff. So I get that. And to get to freedom, we need discipline. To get to freedom, we need discipline. And though even if it's just one minute, two minutes, five minutes in the morning, just to find a way to centre yourself, to write down and and writing things down is much more powerful than just saying saying things because it actually creates a sense of embodying what we're intending to do. And it works with different, you know, circuits in our brain writing down what is your intention for the day? Even if it is I'm to remain in my centre today. And if there's something that worries you as a stressful meeting, or conversation or deadline, just imagine, what is the quality that you need to embody for that situation to go as well as possible? And you might just take three breaths, imagining that you're filling yourself with that quality, so maybe it's I need patients In that meeting, so just before I go to work, I'm going to take three breaths, I'm going to fill myself with that quality of patience, I'm going to get that sense. And then when I'm in that meeting, I'm going to practice that. So if we can start just with a connection, morning and evening, they're very simple. And yet very profound rituals that don't take a lot of time. You know, you could spend five minutes in the morning in the evening, or even one minute in the morning, in the evening, 30 seconds in the morning in the evening to start. And yet, that reflection will change your life. And it will change your life in many ways. But one of the ways is because you are developing that amazing faculty of self observation, which is the key to everything. If someone asked me, and they often do, what is the one skill that leaders need most? Right now, it is the skill of observing themselves and observing the systems they're part of. Because only once we have observed things as they are, of intervening in them in a positive way. The second I would say is listening. that listening is also listening to oneself. Listening to others, listening, truly listening, deeply listening to the systems and the world around us. So I hope that's kind of bridged those questions, Pete?
Well, I again, in some ways it has for me, so I'm grateful. I'm conscious of time, Alison, but I have been making some notes of there's a couple of there's a couple whose I do want to ask you about a few. Okay, with a little bit more close, and
I can I can flow this afternoon I'm working tonight. So I started I mentioned,
you mentioned way back earlier, a conversation that would become disconnected from our wildness.
Tell me more. So even with
the wild environment, so I spoke earlier about if we had a relationship with the planet, we wouldn't destroy it. If we really felt that deep sense of kinship with the trees, we would know that they are a part of us. And we would know that destroying, destroying a part of ourselves will not lead us into any kind of utopia. And if it leads us to a tech utopia, no thanks. But that's just a short passage of time. So So I think, actually one of the things we can do to connect with our own inner sense of our true nature, our wildness is to spend more time in the natural world and actually observing our natural world. We've lost touch with what's deeply natural for us, as human beings, which is connection, connection with ourselves, understanding of ourselves, as well as our natural environment. I again, I don't see I don't see a separation between myself and the natural environment in the way many, but do so I see. completely connected at sense of Connect true connection with each other. We've lost sense of the wildness of being in community. So for so many of us who live in these very strange nuclear family constructs, Yeah, hello. Where, where, where, you know, spend most of our time working to put a roof over our heads for many of us to put our kids through school ferry kids to activities, there's so much distraction that feels meaningful. But actually, it's just part of existing in this status quo systems that we've constructed. And we get so focused on the nuclear arity of that system that we forget about our responsibilities to Yes, having a healthy family, but then connecting with the broader communities and the broader world and creating health. They're so so wonderful. We can start with the health of the family, but often we're not even starting there. Yeah, we're starting with the hamster wheel. So we're going through the motions of living, but without aliveness in it our life itself becomes a habit not a ritual
And so start with your nuclear family by all means, but ritualize the the bringing aliveness to that that system. healthy self alive, self connected self rewild himself, which doesn't look like running around naked in the forest all day every day. Well, I might for some people, no judgments, love a bit of nudity. Go for it. That's for me. Who and I operate in corporate settings? I operate in very material. I'm very highly pragmatic. I'm, I've got the ability to be highly commercial in my life. All of that comes with a sense of wildness. Why? Because I'm connected to a deeper sense of self. I've travelled a journey with that question, Who am I never finding the end destination, because I've never liked to limit myself that way. And so I feel wild in everything I do, including talking to my accountant, about my tax, you know, every few months, like, because because there's so, so so so so that there's, for me, it's that, that sense of who am I? And where are we, through questions, we need to ask this humanity, these questions can take us through at least to our deathbed this lifetime, you know, and potentially beyond if that's your belief system, you know, there's so rich, who am I? And where am I? Yeah, yeah. And I don't mean, I'm sitting in my office. It's like, I'm on this beautiful planet. I have this amazing ecosystem around me. Yep. I'm connected to these communities, this family. And then that's our field of service. You know, teacher once said to me years ago, wherever you are, is your field of service.
Yeah, wherever you are, be there. Yeah.
And that's what we bring that aliveness to.
Alison, thank you. I'm conscious of time. So I'm going to pause there. Just to practical things, where can people get in touch? You've got a book out? Yes. Leadership for the new millennium deed.
alisoncameron.com. Alison with one L. And you can send me an email there. [email protected] I am on LinkedIn. I am continually toying with escaping social media entirely, but I haven't yet.
I reckon when I'm retired, at some point, I will just give it all up.
we'll wait and see. But yeah, I would love to hear from from from anyone who. I also understand, I'd like to let people know, I understand that some of the topics we've discussed today could feel out of reach or unrealistic. And start small if you're interested in exploring. And so those those that quote around discipline leads to freedom is very true. Yep. All of us have the opportunity to spend two minutes a day at least, just being with that question, Who am I? Yeah. And if we can start there at a whole world can can unfold in front of us that looks looks quite different. And by the way, I've been working with a small group of leaders for some time who have been applying the principles in the book, applying the principles that we've discussed today. And they are all living in the world, very pragmatic, mainly high level corporate leaders, and their pragmatic impact, their wealth, their success, their happiness, none of that has actually suffered. So I think so often, we use the excuse that oh, if I do that, it will compromise this. Yes, we need to take the step down the rabbit hole and risk all of that. However, it's not binary. And I haven't seen in fact, but that needs to translate.
Yeah, thank you so much for sharing all those resources. We'll put them in the show notes when it gets published. If it's okay with you, Alison, I'd like to end and relatively lighter note if possible, and ask you know, a couple of quick fire questions and you know, first thought best thought we'd be great. Are you more sunset or sunrise?
Sunrise at the beach sunset in the mountains?
Okay, cool. Do you prefer a night out or a night in 19? Okay. Would you rather travel to the past or travel to the future? Neither.
Okay, I'm very happy living in the present moment.
Okay. What's been your guilty TV? Lockdown pleasure.
Oh, so many. So many.
Out. Will I rewatch scandal? Okay, yeah. And all the seasons. Fantastic. Shonda Rhimes. Kerry Washington stars. Anyone who likes intelligent trash, go get it.
Two final questions. I'm a big book lover, as you can probably see behind me as I know you are what's a book that's changed your life.
Him and his the glass speed game and creating freedom by Raul Martin is
I think I might have to get the creative field in one. But the obvious connection and then final question from me, which I've just realised is probably not a quick fire question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. I've got apart from the Who am I and where am I? What's a question that's changed your life
question that's changed my life would you like to go out for dinner?
What a brilliant answer. That is a brilliant world class answer. Thanks. I really appreciate it. Super
Yep. Super fun. Really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much for your insight. And thank you so much for sharing yourself.
Oh, absolute pleasure. So
much love Pete. All right. Take care. Okay, bye.