Simon Ekin

He wasn’t a genius – he just went searching

Werner Erhard with the Dalai Lama in 1979.Credit: Werner Erhard Foundation

I get some of my greatest insights in life when I do simple things like having a shower, boiling the kettle, or in this case, opening the fridge. I was opening the fridge recently and as I did,the phrase, “this is it and I’m satisfied,” came to my mind.

It was a distinction, or phrase, I learned from a Landmark Education seminar many years ago and I thought how incredibly profound and simple it is because I notice how much of my life is spent in a state of ‘this is not it and I am not satisfied!’

What I learned from that phrase was that when I can be in the present and accept things they way they are – that is, love them the way they are, and the way they are not, with no judgment – well, that’s pretty close to joy as I see it.

The trouble is the way we are constructed is, ‘this is not it and I am not satisfied…but I will be when I have x, y or z, or when something changes, hopefully, and normally for the better.’ Werner described suffering as, “things shouldn’t be this way.” Most of our lives, most of the time then is probably spent suffering.

I began thinking about Werner, whom I met on a couple of occasions and I found myself saying, “wow he was a genius!” Then a thought followed that, “No, I don’t think he was necessarily a genius – he just went searching (to find out what made human beings tick.)”

And that option – of searching – is available to all of us, all of the time.

What two boxing bouts in the Army taught me about resilience

Resilience: 5 lessons from boxing in the army
Inter-Company Boxing Night – Photo courtesy of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

I didn’t have a very long or illustrious boxing ‘career’ – in fact it lasted just two bouts – but I remember it well. Whilst attending The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – where the British Army trains it’s officers – we were introduced to ‘milling:’ 60 seconds of non-stop ‘controlled aggression’ against your opponent, with boxing gloves. With a twist: the ever-watching training staff would pair you up with a friend. This video will give you a sense of what it’s like.

From this process, a few of us were selected to box in the inter-company boxing night, along with all the pomp and ceremony that is the British Army. The day before, I discovered that my opponent had boxed no less than 32 times for the Metropolitan Police.

It was not a long fight. I ‘telegraphed’ my punches and he saw them coming. A jab here, a jab there (repeat) and after 2 rounds my nose exploded, covering the canvas with bloody crimson dots. My nose felt like a rock for the rest of the week with all the congealed blood.

But I didn’t give up and I didn’t shy away from the ‘milling.’ I was shit-scared of looking weak or beaten as adrenaline coursed through my veins, but it taught me the power of resilience or ‘getting stuck in’. The dictionary defines resilience as: the ability to recover from, or adjust to, misfortune or change. It has been an essential skill for me over the years; a faith and belief that everything will be okay in the end.

And this time of the global Coronavirus pandemic, with change and uncertainty rife, I believe that resilience is about the most important skill we can posses. Check out this post for some sound scientific tips on how to build it.

Now get out there and knock ’em dead, and shout if you need help. If you are looking for some inspiration, watch this remarkable short video on an exhibition of boxing resilience.

Why breakdowns are essential to success

Obstacles along the way

Often when we are in breakdown, we look at successful people and wonder how they did it.

The truth is, many successful people took a long time to get there, and not without their fair share of failure along the way.

Consider the following examples:

  • Henry Ford’s early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the Ford Motor Company.
  • When Jerry Seinfeld first walked on stage at a comedy club he was jeered and booed off.
  • Before JK Rowling became the phenomenal success that she is with her Harry Potter books she was severely depressed, divorced and virtually penniless.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his bestselling book Outliers – The Story of Success, talks about the 10,000-hour rule. In a nutshell, research has shown that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become masterful at something, irrespective of the particular field.

So consider that every breakdown that you encounter is an opportunity for you to keep learning and acquiring mastery.

Success will come; what success is really about is stumbling from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. (Attributed to Winston Churchill, but no proof exists.)

A note on success:

To me it’s about self-acceptance, setting my mind to something and being committed, yet unattached to the outcome – which is a lot easier said than done, like most things. I experienced this when cycling through Africa. The success was cycling 13,000km’s over a period of 14 months. The ‘failure’ was that I was forced to abort and fly over Algeria, which I viewed as an abject failure at the time, but what I now see as an essential part in getting my partner and me home as I may have died in the desert as I had malaria at the time.

Why, “What about me?” is a rotten question

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

Don’t we so often get so stuck, absorbed and over-interested in ourselves? What we want, what our purpose is, how we can make money, what’s my legacy?

What about asking a different question? What if we were to ask, ‘What does the world want from us?” Or, “what were we put on this earth to do?”

It’s like the difference between seeing the world through our own eyes, and then having a transformation where we view the world from the world’s view.

I was chatting with a good friend and I asked him this question. He runs a retail business and is really, really good at it. He didn’t hesitate for a moment, “To encourage others.” I was moved to tears in a moment. Why? Because that is exactly my experience of him. He is one of the most selfless, caring, loving human beings I know. I know he got the power and clarity of his answer too.

What came to me the first instant I asked this question was, “to connect with people.” That has evolved to, “to influence, inspire and enable people to unite, connect and celebrate our shared humanity, rather than focusing on the differences that separate us.”

What’s yours? I’d love to know.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer

Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

In a conversation with a client recently, I used a phrase: one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

I was unsure whether or not to use it, as I thought he might experience it as demeaning, or patronising; or that I was just throwing out a quote or a cliché.

That was until I chatted to him at a function recently. I asked how he was doing and he said, “that quote you shared with me all those years ago really stuck; I have never forgotten it and it recently really helped me in dealing with a challenge I was having. .

Turns out it was perfect for him, in his place and time.

Never be afraid of sharing something that comes to mind as we will never know how it might land with someone and the difference it might make, as the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Is there a word of phrase that sticks in your mind, or one that comes to mind as you read this?

Why Courage is the most important virtue of all

What about me? I don’t care about you.

I find it incredible to think that one day I will die. When I start talks with, “ok, so we all going to die,” the audience invariably looks stunned.

But it’s true, isn’t it? Yet our inner critic – what I call, “The Whining Dream Killer,” thinks that we will live forever, there is always tomorrow and this life is a dress-rehearsal.

That same voice is the one that whines, moans and complains; the same voice that is driving us to extinction, the voice that says, “But what about me? It’s not fair. It’s their fault.”

You can see it in everything that is wrong in the world, from wars, to violence, to hunger to an uncared for planet: My wealth, my power, my comfort, my ego.

Well the truth is I don’t care about you. Not The Whining Dream Killer you.

I do however, care deeply about YOU, that wild, loving, passionate, compassionate and creative being that is here to make this world a better place.

So, what are you going to do as a result of this?

Sit and wonder and think and give the Dream Killer space to play, or get up off your butt and go and do something amazing, powerful and helpful to others and the world.

I’d love to hear what you are going to do.

Go on, I D.A.R.E™* you!

Courageously yours,


D.A.R.E™ is:

• Decision: Make the decision. Everything changes when you do. Get rid of the alternatives.
• Action: Action is the real victory. It’s the process, not the outcome that counts. You always control the process.
• Result: You get the result you get, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always you get the gold medal for giving it a go.
• Evaluate: Now reflect on what you did. Did it work? Did it not? What did you learn and how will you apply that next time?