Archive for the 'Reflections' Category

Three Horses for the Year of The Horse

A Chinese teacher offered me an intriguing parable. He said, “In this year of the horse you get to choose among three types, the race horse, the dressage horse and the work horse. The race horse is an intense thoroughbred that can quickly accelerate to a wild run. The dressage horse is a gentle and graceful animal that can teach you how to ride. The large, strong work horse can plow on and carry your cart forward steadily. This year offers you these three choices. You must select which one will lead you.”

What is your choice? Which horse is the one to help you move your business forward this year?

What you imagine guides what you implement. Reflect on the above parable as you work to align your near-term efforts (Horizon One) with your long-term desired state (Horizon Three.)

© Aviv Shahar

A Fortress of Courage

With Mandela’s passing a fortress of courage is gone. Therefore we must each be a little more courageous today–a little more Mandela.

To Lead Is To Transform:

When Nelson Mandela walked into the presidential palace for his first meeting with F.W. de Clerk he was still officially a prisoner. In fact he had been a prisoner for 26 years at that point. In his mind though, Mandela was freer than the person he was negotiating with. He was a free man because he had made a decision to transform his past animosities into a readiness to engage in an open dialogue. His own transformation became a tool to enable the transformation of his people. Read more here.

© Aviv Shahar

Choose Three Words

Here we go… the world did not end on 12/21/2012, and a new birth of possibilities is in front of us all. The human story is one of resilience. If I had to choose one word to characterize the human spirit, it would be resilience.

I am in the business of learning and co-creating the future. Every year, at the end of December I challenge myself to tell the story of the year in three words. For 2012 my three words are: surprise, rethinking, overcoming.

Surprise forced me to rethink how I can help and create significant value. Rethinking led to overcoming setbacks and challenges, and it opened the door to opportunities that I did not see.

Upon reflection, I’ve seen this theme all around me this year: surprise, rethinking and overcoming.

I then ask if I can intuit a theme for the coming year. For 2013 the three words that presented themselves are: listening, elevation, creativity.

I see cross currents and conflicting short- and long-term trends ahead that require deep listening, which opens renewal and growth pathways to new elevations. At a higher elevation we are able to see what we were incapable of seeing before. And at a higher elevation we find new capabilities, creativity and the potential to unlock previously unimagined possibilities.

Now try this yourself by playing a game with friends over the holiday. Ask them to describe the essence of 2012 in three words. See if a pattern emerges. Then ask them to intuit the coming year in three words. See if the answers provide insight into how to set yourself up for success in 2013.

I am interested in hearing about your three words for 2012 and your three words for 2013. Please share your insights.

Kind regards,


Mindful Living

Well-being, happiness, fulfillment, meaning and purpose are found in the small moments that create the significance of living. In this excerpt from the Rituals of Champions class we discuss the Mindful Living – how to live mindfully every day.

© Aviv Shahar

One Year Later – Three Lessons

The email below came this morning from the Davis Waldorf School Administrator, Kelly Brewer. It brought home three lessons:

Lesson One: never underestimate the power of a small dedicated group of people to turn the seemingly impossible into actuality.

Lesson Two: you never know what the impact of your work today may make possible in a year.

Lesson Three: transformational breakthrough is always nearby, inside. First one person makes the leap of belief and confidence, then the second and then others make the leap together.


Hello Aviv,

Last night we celebrated the building expansion of the Davis Waldorf School. A year ago at our annual Board/Faculty retreat, you helped us envision our needs. I wanted you to know that we realized them in under a year.

Our 25 year old school was in desperate need of additional classroom, office and gathering space. When we came into the weekend, it was not even a dream that we could have what we truly needed.

After our insightful work together looking at where we came from and our strengths and opportunities for growth, it became obvious that expansion was necessary. You asked me to sit in the middle of the group and make it happen. I didn’t think that I knew how to do that, but with your guidance I was able to inspire the group to take that most important first step.

Our work together truly transformed our campus and school. It now feels like we are a stable and mature school poised for the next level of our growth and development. Our 200+ children and families are benefiting daily from the work we did together on that August weekend just one year ago.

As the building ceremony was winding down, I realized that you were not thanked properly. Please allow me this opportunity to deliver a deep and heartfelt thank you for helping us reach our dreams.

Kelly Brewer
Davis Waldorf School

The Enlightenment Paradox & The “New Normal”

Utopian Views of enlightenment envisioned an empowered and knowledge-proliferated society that would become problem free. It turned out that the opposite is the case. Whether our post modern society is enlightened or not is arguable but what is clear is that a whole new set of difficult and complex problems have emerged. Problems that quickly mutate and then go viral.

In a globalized inter-dependent and interconnected world, problems are not resolved – they multiply and morph into greater complexity. Like a virus that shape-shifts its form and strategy by the time vaccination is produced – even if  the epicenter of its appearance finds a solution and recovery procedures are put into place the resolution strategy must continue to evolve with the changing dynamics.

This is the butterfly ricochet syndrome where every movement reverberates in everything else and every fractal cell is not merely a holographic reflection of the whole but a potential point of issuance and change that can trigger a chain-reaction that transforms the whole. Hence the idea that in an enlightened complex system, progress is measured not by the elimination of problems but by changing the nature of the problems in which you engage.

What is the leadership imperative in this?  What competency is needed to handle the behavioral and social ricochet syndrome? There is a shift of focus. Problem solving is no longer sufficient. Leaders are called to be transformational, to help us transform ourselves as we engage in evolving solutions. The strategy imperative is to embrace the unknown and the uncertainties it brings.

Long periods of equilibrium interspersed with short intervals of change are no longer the norm.  This has been replaced by “the new normal”: intense volatility and transformation with rare and short periods of equilibrium.

“What’s the good news?”
The “new normal” creates opportunities for transformational leaders and agents. It forces us to constantly develop, learn and be adaptive. Enlightenment is not a “point of arrival” theater. It is a dynamic process of change and evolution. It is the answer to the prayer: “may you live in interesting times.” Enjoy!

© Aviv Shahar

Capacity For Reverence

Reflections for Rosh Hashanah:

Have you lost your capacity for reverence?

Remember the feeling you experienced when your child stood on her/his own for the first time and then took their first steps?

Better still, remember how you stood up for the first time? Remember the first time you noticed a butterfly, the tree outside, the rain? Remember how special your secret place was? How meaningful everything around you was? Can you remember the sense of vitality and how each and every day was unique and full of texture? Do you remember how meaningful your first time away from home was for you? The first kiss, the first love, the first time driving on your own, your first solo flight…

Reverence was your daily bread. The world was filled with questions, wonder and great mystery. We now live through times of great uncertainties and a great many questions. My question to you is – have you lost your capacity for reverence? Is the uncertain and the unknown a burden and a stress or can you rediscover the spirit of curiosity, of reverence? Can you embrace living with new excitement in the face of the unknown?

Reverence is the medicinal remedy for a sense of shortfall.

If you tell me you failed, my question will be can you access your capacity for reverence?

If you tell me you are frustrated or you are afraid, my question will be can you get in touch with your capacity for reverence?

What else can survive cruelty, defuse hatred, alleviate pain and redeem stupidity? It’s your capacity for reverence.

© Aviv Shahar

The Dalai Lama Follows Me On Twitter

Yes, I know. The Dalai Lama follows 34,439 other people on Twitter or he did the last time I checked. I doubt the Dalai Lama really follows so many tweets. I think he would have to sacrifice his meditation time and other commitments. Still, it occurred to me that something important is going on here.

What is the Twitter phenomenon? Is it the ultimate form of democratization of discourse, where everyone, from the president to the janitor, can converse with everyone else (providing it is done in 140 characters)? What does it tell us beyond the fact that we all crave attention so much that we scream out into the void?

It tells me that:
1. We want to feel connected. To belong to something bigger.
2. We seek to be in conversation with people we admire, and with strangers. Directly, not through intermediaries.
3. We aspire to plug into some greater invisible power, communicate with it and tap the greater collective unconscious.

The unconscious intelligence that sits inside the collective space itself desires to move into the light of consciousness. Still, there is a bigger point in the idea that the Dalai Lama follows me on Twitter (even if it is not him in person, but only one of his assistants).

Here is that point: if you knew that the Dalai Lama (or someone that you consider a spiritual authority) reads every thought that goes through your mind, would your thoughts be influenced? If you knew that your thoughts as you think them are appearing somewhere on a google screen in the heavens, would that change your thoughts?

If you knew that all your mental tweets are recorded and stored in this heavenly google and that you will ultimately re-live this script when your time comes to leave this Earth – would you think differently? Would you be more compassionate, more forgiving, more loving?

Hey, if you knew your thoughts partly shape the heavens, and the here and now, by the quality of your intent and the energetic value you generate – and that you were not just a dancer on the stage but also the choreographer – would that influence which thoughts you give credence to?

That’s what occurred to me when I got an email that the Dalai Lama follows me: You better pay attention to what you think, what you say and to the actions you take. Now that the Dalai Lama follows me on Twitter, you can follow me too here

© Aviv Shahar

A Glorious Passing

Moshe Domb was a special man. At 92 he was an emblem of the greatest generation—hard working, curious and honest—a man of integrity and honor.

Whenever we visited Sara’s family I enjoyed the banter with Moshe. He was stubborn. A man of principles. He fought and got wounded twice when serving in the Jewish Brigade of the Russian Army during the Second World War. He came to Israel and helped build a beautiful Kibbutz and a beautiful country.

His passing yesterday was a glorious lesson for everyone close to him. Eight years ago in one of our endearing conversations, I said: “Moshe, when you die you will get the shock of your life because you will discover that it is not the end, that there is continuance in another form; that in fact life here was a training ground for what you need to do next.” His response was typical. “Nonsense” he said. Now of course he knows I was right.

Four days before his passing, when he stopped eating, he said to one of his daughters, “tell everyone I am dying with joy, rejoicing the life I lived. I have had a good life.” There was a glistening light around him. Twelve hours before his passing he said: “either I am not clever enough or the bureaucrats in heaven are worse than the bureaucrats here. They refuse to let me in before I finish all sorts of idiotic questions and forms which I do not understand.”

Moshe said he was going to go up there and raise hell about why they allow things to be so messed up down here. I am sure he is getting his answer now. Those on the other side are bound by the rule of not interfering with our decisions on this side. They are always ready to help in what we try to do but leave us free to make our own choices. And Moshe was a man who made powerful choices and then lived by them.

Now he rejoices on the other side, having taught us all about a glorious passing.

© Aviv Shahar

A Four Year Old Wisdom

Here is a story I heard today from my sister in law about her grandson:
Four years old: mother, I love you like the whole world.
Mother: I love you like all the stars.
Four years old: But mother, if we start competing in love, love will run away…

And I thought wisdom was something you gathered through life and experience…

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