The Boring, Daily Birth of a Renegade

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Today’s guest contributor is my friend, Mark Silver. Mark is a Sufi spiritual nut and business tenderizer who has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs, the self-employed, and other similarly beautiful people since the late 1990s.

He had the amazing good timing to launch Heart of Business, with a spiritual foundation in Sufism (the mystical practice of Islam) on September 12, 2001. Oops.

He and his team of practitioners have been helping folks in business who want to make a difference in the world make money by reaching the people who need them. You can find good stuff at Heart of Business. You can also find him in the business section of the Huffington Post.


People like to say there are no rules except the ones you write.

But there are rules. Gravity is real, and if you don’t pay attention to it, the bottom of the cliff won’t be so kind to you. It’s critical to discern your own path forward.

Here’s the problem–the well-worn path tends to be well-worn for a reason. You spend the next ten years working on a square wheel. Me, I’m fine with the round ones.

Sometimes you have to break the rules, and sometimes it’s just plain dumb. A true renegade knows the difference. Because the issue isn’t about whether you’re renegade or not. The real issue is discernment.

Seeing clearly is probably the single hardest thing a human being can do.

We have so many things that get in the way. Past experiences. Fear. Judgments and beliefs. Shame. Ancestral patterns. Fear. Shame. Did I mention fear and shame?

The true renegade is born out of clear discernment. If there’s something obscuring your vision, you need to know what that is. If you have a black spot on a mirror, you want to hold the mirror up to a bright wall so that the black spot shows up and can be cleaned.

What do you do to isolate the spots on your mirror?

The Importance of Quiet Time Is the Noise It Reveals

Time to dive into meditation, prayer, remembrance (as we in the Sufi tradition call it) or some other spiritual practice. But wait! Don’t be fooled about what you’re really doing.

People make the mistake thinking that remembrance time is meant to plunge you directly into a an experience of peace, calm and beauty. And sure, that happens.

Yet anyone who has a regular practice knows that it isn’t necessarily quiet and peaceful. A fair amount of that time, especially early in a practice, say the first ten years or so, there’s a lot of noise. A lot!

All that noise didn’t pop up because you decided to try to spend time in remembrance. It’s there all along. It’s just when you’re out in the world, all of that internal noise blends in with your normal daily experience.

It’s extremely challenging, which is a kind way to say “impossible” to be a true renegade with all that noise on the mirror of your discernment. Without a mirror clean of internal splotches, there’s no way to tell if your guidance is true wisdom or just a fear reaction.

This is one of the fantastic benefits of spiritual practice, even before you’ve had a chance to experience a lot of peace and beauty from it. What if you could sit for ten minutes, no, eight minutes, and be with what’s going on in your head? Just learning to see the splotches on your mirror well enough to identify them in a line-up?

As you get familiar with that noise, then you can start to have discernment about how you’re seeing the world. You’ll be able to see that, hey, that person isn’t really saying that you’re trying to take too much from them because you’re charging too much–that’s the voice you’ve heard in remembrance the last five days.

That internal voice identified, you can then begin to truly hear what the other person is saying.

They’re actually telling you that they love what you do, and are happy to pay your price. It’s just going to take a week to figure out how they are going to pay.

Whoa, way different.

What About The “Spirit” In Spiritual?

There is indeed more to spiritual practice than just seeing your own stuff. I’ve had incredible experiences of love, deep insights, and the joy of knowing the presence of the Divine. These are wonderful things, and I depend on spiritual practice to experience the profound, abiding power of love in my life.

However, these kinds of mystical experience can feel elusive, especially at first.

If you want to be a renegade, a true renegade and not just reacting to the herd, but knowing the wisdom of when to go with the herd and when to strike out on your own, you need to clearly discern reality.

And the first step is to at least know the spots on your own  mirror.

Some Recommendations

Here’s a simple one-two-three that can give you a tremendous hop forward in your discernment and thus in your ability to be a true renegade. Don’t be fooled; although these are simple steps, very few people actually commit to them. When you can commit to then, you’ll be surprised at how effective they are.

1. Set aside the time every day. Every day.

Set aside a minimum of fifteen minutes every day. Get up fifteen minutes before the rest of your family. Stay up fifteen minutes after everyone else has gone to sleep. Instead of wasting time in front of youtube videos of cats flushing the toilet, take your fifteen minutes.

Do this especially if you think you don’t have the time to do it. Because I can guarantee without having met you that the voice, “I don’t have the time to do…” is a major splotch on your mirror. That voice, among others, is keeping you from being a successful, wisdom-guided renegade.

2. Drop your expectations.

Because meditation practices like Zen have become so popularized, it’s easy to bring strange and unrealistic expectations to a practice. Expectations like you’re going to sit silently, peacefully, without moving for fifteen minutes.

You won’t. You’ll sit down and get an itch. You’ll need to shift around. You’ll be uncomfortable, or late, or distracted. You might get five minutes, or three minutes of real settled-in time during that fifteen minutes.

Exactly. That’s why you set aside the fifteen minutes, so you can get that precious three.  Now that I’ve told you the secret, don’t go just setting aside three minutes, because then you’ll end up with about five seconds of settled-in time, which isn’t completely useless, but it’s not going to make you a renegade.

3. Ask that love question.

After I sit in Remembrance for some time, and I’ve been swirling in my internal voices of fear and shame and worry, I often ask this one question that one of my teachers gave me: “Is love available even here?”

Even in the middle of shame and fear? Even in the middle of worry and distraction. Even after hardly getting even 1 minute of settled-in time out of fifteen, is love still available to me?

Ask that question sincerely, meaning you don’t know the answer. You honestly don’t know if it’s available here. And then bring a willingness to be surprised. What does your heart show you?

Ahhh… often this is the sweet spot, where the love plunge happens in practice.

4. If you want some help, try the Challenge.

I offer a two week Remembrance Challenge, to take 15 minutes a day to remember love and to learn about yourself. You can do it here.

You can also listen to an eight minute Remembrance audio I did here (no opt-in required, it’s just sitting there for anyone to listen to.)

Every Act of Business Can Be An Act of Love

Love is, as Dante put it, the “primum mobilis” the prime mover. Love is what enflames the heart, inspires the soul, and moves us to do what we must do even in the face of challenges and brambles and no clear path.

I know that every act of business, every act period, can be an act of love. But that potential for love comes alive, and you are born as the renegade lover, only when you access true discernment. So take the time, sit your butt down, and let the mirror of your heart be cleaned in love.

Let’s go. We need more renegades, more lovers, more wise ones.

You got fifteen minutes to spare so you can join us?

I’m curious- how do you cultivate the discernment you need to be a renegade?


Learn more about Mark at Heart of Business or play with him on twitter at MarkHeartofBiz

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27 responses

27 responses to “The Boring, Daily Birth of a Renegade”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Mark Silver, HiroBoga, Les McKeown, Madalina Uceanu and others. Madalina Uceanu said: Good reading RT @jonathanfields: The Boring, Daily Birth of a Renegade – by genius @MarkHeartofBiz […]

  2. Wow. I am so glad I clicked on this today. You are so right, Mark. Discernment (what a great word) can only come from being still. I heard there’s a Sufi saying, “When you take one step closer to God, God takes 10 steps closer to you.” That has helped me tremendously.

    To me, it’s just the ACT of sitting for 10-15 minutes — the willingness to show up and attempt to be still — that creates the space for little miracles. My days always go better. Problems get solved with little effort on my part (sometimes none!). And I feel a confidence that is unlike anything I have on my “non-meditating” days. I don’t have a perfect track record, but I’m coming back to it. Because it works. Thanks!

  3. This is a phenomenally insightful and inspiring post! Mark, than you for sharing this wisdom, and Jonathan, thank you for providing the channel to spread it.

    I just signed up for the Remembrance Challenge, and I’m grateful that you provided this tool for helping all of us take the time each day to get still and reflect.

    This has been the most important thing I’ve read all week. Thank you again.

    In Humble Gratitude,


  4. John Sherry says:

    Mark, I applaud your approach. A friend said the other day, “doing nothing and relaxing is as potent as working hard”. He’s not wrong as inspiration, reflection, insight and lightbulbs turning into whole chandeliers appear at such times.

    I also like to have a spi-ritual experience. A regular ritual to my spiritual self and higher understanding – things like a long walk, a CD of waves or gentle sounds, or a mere five minutes sitting in my self zone. Where I honour my more serene person and make space for him.In the quiet is often all the truth we need – business, life and love. Many thanks for flying the flag for releasing the stress and mess. To your success.

  5. Beautiful, as usual, Mark. As a continually re-committed (and so very imperfect) meditator, this part called my bluff even before it realized in my brain (which it would have):

    “Now that I’ve told you the secret, don’t go just setting aside three minutes, because then you’ll end up with about five seconds of settled-in time, which isn’t completely useless, but it’s not going to make you a renegade.”

    I love when I find one of my very favorite business Guides writing on the blog of another one of my very favorite business Guides. Thanks to both of you.

  6. Great post from Mark Silver and I love this sentence: The true renegade is born out of clear discernment….. To have clear discernment is the key to being open to hearing your intuition and not just mind chatter…
    Thank you!

  7. Hi Mark,

    I sit 10 minutes on the hour each working hour.

    The practice can be peaceful, agitating, exhilarating, boring….etc, but it’s not about labels. Sitting helps you become an observer of your thoughts.

    When watching the splotches tend to arise, with powerful intensity and frequency. Increased meditation brings more stuff.

    I literally drop everything to sit on the hour. Shows me what I’m attached to 😉

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!


  8. Brother, I know you are doing this right now and I can feel the love. Time to take myself off the computer and back to the cushion, the goodness, the heart. Once a day, these days, is not enough for me and isn’t that amazing!

  9. Eric says:

    Every act of business can be an act of love. Thank you for spreading the word!!
    And thank you for not just being motivational (which you are) but also for offering practices – real butt on the cushion practices with the depth to reveal the spots on the mirror that need attention.
    Rub, rub, rub . . . the heart, the mirror, the dust . . .

  10. Accepting Mark’s Remembrance Challenge last spring, was like adding a new color to my palette that energizes all the rest of hues. I now have a daily morning meditation practice that is an essential part of my life. Mark, lovely to see you here.xo

  11. Excellent guest post!

    People often ask me if meditation “works”. Haha! It’s got to be one of the most perplexing, paradoxical, seemingly unanswerable questions kicking around out there. I say, never mind if it works, instead I just ask back, “Do you meditate?” Then let the Source take it from there.

    Thanks Mark and Jonathan!


  12. Christopher says:

    Great, great stuff Mark. It’s only when I’m reading on spirituality and practicing presence that I am truly satisfied with my life. Thank you for this reading today. It’s amazing how impactful clarity can make your life fulfilling when you just observe.

  13. Rosemary says:

    Mark…Thanks for this post. I aspire to meditate twice a day for 20 mins but can usually manage one anyway. It’s great to hear that I’m not the only one who spends at least half of that time observing the chattering and replays of the ‘fear’ and the ‘shame’, if at a respectable distance. But it is so worth it when that beautiful oasis of calm stillness is achieved and maintained for any length of time. I often think that these nirvana moments are in fact proof that time doesn’t exist!

  14. “Every act of business can be an act of love.”
    I read this just when I needed help pushing past the fear of failure.
    Thank you, Mark.

  15. Mark Silver says:

    Thank you for your kind comments- I’m so inspired to read in a quick scan through the comments that so many people are also engaged with practices. In one of those ironic moments of timing, Jonathan published this post yesterday while I was facilitating a virtual spiritual retreat for a group of our clients- finally catching up a bit this morning. I’ll swoop through the comments when I have more time- it’s Saturday morning and that means family time!

    peace- catch you soon.

  16. Alana says:

    I recently committed to a 1000 day meditation practice. Making it non-negotiable has taken away the “I don’t have time” argument, even as I am wrapped in overwhelm. So often I am pulled to go with the herd – particularly when the herd i want to follow is comprised of inspiring, authentic renegades – and saying ” this isn’t right for me” makes me feel like the lonely kid at the side of the school yard who will never measure up or catch up. Sitting in meditation is helping me find the strength to follow my inner guidance, even when it is the harder decision. Thank you, as always, for your words.

  17. Nancie says:

    Thank you for the challenge Mark. Sometimes we all need a little push in what we know is the right direction. I’ve signed up.

  18. Steven says:

    Beautiful post. I have been a fan of Mark Silver and the Heart of Business for about half a year now. He shares a ton of wisdom there, and he knows how to integrate business and spirituality in a very congruent way.

    “how do you cultivate the discernment you need to be a renegade?”

    I try to cultivate discernment through alone time, by watching my thoughts and emotions as they arise. Sometimes they tell me things that I don’t like to hear, but it is important to listen anyway.

  19. Molly Gordon says:

    Bravo. Every act of business can be an act of love, both for oneself and for the other. And the love originates in something bigger than either. This is why I call self-employment a path of personal transformation–and also why I so respect your work.

  20. A brilliant, insightful post & interview. Thank you, Jonathan and Mark. It’s refreshing to hear more people discussing what matters in work & business – quality of mind, stillness, spaciousness, creative idleness, self-awareness, deep connection.

  21. Chris says:

    I don’t get it. I get quiet time every time I sit on the John. And when I turn off my bedside light. That’s plenty for me. Sure not going to waste what would turn out to be days of my life on some hippy mumbo jumbo navel gazing. Might as well go live on a commune.

  22. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Silver, Julie Daley. Julie Daley said: 😉 RT @MarkHeartofBiz just received the absolute best comment I could ever imagine to my post on @jonathanfield's blog […]

  23. “the boring daily birth of a renegade” What a great title to another brilliant post by a man I have huge respect for..!

    Mark, I’m going to repeat this until it’s burned in my head, and quote you forever on it! “every act of business can be an act of love”

    “omnia vincit amor” — LOVE CONQUERS ALL

    — hope you two, and everyone, have a lovely thanksgiving!

  24. Janice says:

    What a great question to ask
    “Is love available even here?”
    I will find much use for that in my own work with people

  25. Miranda says:

    I love this – read it still, once a week, to remind myself to have patience and to challenge myself to develop greater discernment.