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.
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?
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