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Human Super-Powers: Manifesto for a New Social Order

superman[Draft Version 2013/01/28]

[Practical elements of the platform listed below consist of:

Some of you know that I am currently living in a commune near Asheville NC… and that I have been living communally for about 10 years now.  Living in community is challenging at best, frequently blissful, and sometimes hell – but this is now my life.  Having “drunk the cool-aid” there is no turning back for me now.

Today is the first time, however, that I am able to clearly articulate why.  I am calling this:

Human Super-Powers: Manifesto for a New Social Order

1.  What’s important?

The inquiry starts with a simple question: what is important to human beings?  What are the things that bring us the most happiness, fulfillment and joy? What really matters to us, at the end of our days and of our lives?

Friendship.  Family.  Sexual intimacy.  Working together on important projects.  Dancing.  Food.  Music.  Parties, celebrations, nature, appreciations, love, innocence… etc. etc.

What do these things have in common?  They are all free (or very low-cost) and immediately accessible.  Think about it: almost all the important things in life are free.

Ergo: Let’s conduct an experiment here.  Let’s start by spending as much time developing these finer things as we do fighting and complaining about our work, our children and spouses, our health, the political and economic system, the environment etc.

Let’s start by putting some energy on our greatest resource: each other.  Let’s just try putting some pleasurable attention on each other – listening deeply, openly appreciating and enjoying each other, working on fun projects together, creating art and music, and taking care of each other.

Let’s start now, in this very moment, and let’s see what might come from that in terms of the larger (and necessary) structural changes.

This is not my idea by the way.  It’s very much along the lines of what Jesus was thinking.  IMHO.

2.  The Problem of Human Relationships

So, why has this not already happened?  Given the infinite opportunities for human enjoyment and progress that are available (many just one email or phone call away) – why are we, as a group, so miserable?  Has it occurred to anyone besides me that the struggle, boredom and loneliness of our lives is as much a systemic as it is an individual problem?

And might we try even briefly  to give up the pretense of happiness?  [Might this even be the reason that Mother Theresa calls us Americans the "loneliest country in the world"?].  And even when one of us achieves that lofty goal… how happy could they really be with most people around them miserable?

Let me put the question another way: why are human relationships – which are for most of us the greatest source of joy and fulfillment available to us — so problematic?

Perhaps I am over-simplifying, but the problem occurs to me as obvious:  we don’t know how to listen to each other.  We are unwilling or unable to put enough positive attention on each other to get to the understanding, the love, the shared solution and the creative action.

Why?  Because no one taught us, of course.  Many of us are so full of unexpressed, unfulfilled or even unconscious needs that it’s like a cry in the wilderness… nobody is listening because of the noise of all the other cries.

We are, many of us, functioning at a level of emotional intelligence that is … scary.

3. The Human Super-Power

You know what the human super-power is:  communication and collaboration.  This is the ability to create a “whole that is greater than the parts”.  We humans are actually, geniuses at it – this is a good thing.  We have accomplished so much.

And yet it has not gone so well, really.

It’s time to up the game.  We have to get more real.  We need now, to have the difficult conversations, expose the tender parts, speak our craving to love and be loved, and hammer-out some agreements for how we can work together.  These will not be perfect agreements – human relationships will never be entirely easy or painless – but they will be good enough.

And then we shall party, and the next day we shall begin again.

Who is in?

4. Gaining Emotional Intelligence: the “Unspokens” Process

[Draft Version 2013/01/28]

“Unspokens” are an important and very powerful emotional communication tool.  They are derived from a similar process invented by Victor Baranco, and are also related to the Harville Hendrix “Is there more” exercise. Here is my take on it.

An “Unspoken” is any emotion or response to another person or to an event that has not yet being expressed. An Unspoken can be positive or negative, big or small, it accurate or imaginary (projection), etc.  The problem is that in many (if not all) cases, unspoken emotions kill intimacy, community and the possibility of creative (and pleasurable) co-operation.

This is true for both positive and negative unspokens.  We may not give the positive unspoken (appreciations) because we don’t want to be “inappropriate”, or we don’t like being vulnerable, letting people know how much we like them, etc.  We don’t give the negative unspokens because, well… generally its because we are fearful that it might make the situation worse.  And this is a valid fear… but there is another way, which is for two or more people to have an agreement around the benefit of a communication structure that clears unspokens.

There are two types of unspokens.  The first is used towards another person when the sender (the speaker of the unspoken) can clear the emotion in one statement.  I will say to them: “I have an unspoken, will you hear it”.  If they know what you are talking about and agreement has been given, they will normally say “yes”. If not they might agree to visit with you later.

Once you have permission, you will deliver the unspoken.  It could be positive – example (to one of my housemates): “Julia, I appreciate the attention you are putting on our bathroom”.  Julia will not usually respond except with an acknowledgement “thank you”.  Or the unspoken could be negative – example negative unspoken (delivered to all my housemates): “I feel like I am dragging you all kicking and screaming into greater emotional transparency”.  The housemates acknowledge with a “thank you” and that ends the cycle.

Julia will usually NOT comment or respond immediately – in fact an immediate response to an unspoken is expressly forbidden.  Why?  Because (1) The unspoken is for me to clear something – I don’t want them to get hooked-in (reactive); and (2) I am not claiming any truth in the matter of my unspoken.  It may or may not be true that I am “dragging them” into this or other.  The language may be totally off, the underlying feeling may be immature (self-centered, lacking in perspective)… none of that matters.  The point is to get it out and then clear it.

You can think of a unspoken as an emotion that has been attached to a judgment or belief system.  I deliver my unspoken, frankly not sure either of the maturity of the emotion or the accuracy of the belief system.  And this is really the benefit of the formal communication structure (agreement): you are telling them in advance that what you are about to tell them may or may not be accurate, and ideally this makes them less defended and more open to you.

The communication is essentially “I have this feeling, and these thoughts, and it’s causing me discomfort and making me feel distant from you – I am telling you now but I don’t know what it means and what the solution is, so please help me see the truth of it”.

Let me illustrate with the example.  Let’s say that I do actually feel and believe that my housemates are dragging.  But is it true?  Well, let’s think.

I am basically telling them that I feel like I am working too hard in relating to them and that I want them to be more forthright and direct.  However this could be my imagination (that I am “working too hard”).  What is “too hard” really, why should I not be “working hard” here?  I could also be simply suffering from our inherent human tendency to over-value my own contribution and under-value the contributions of others.  It’s also possible that the reason they are dragging is that they have a ton of unspokens about me.  It could be that I am a real pain-in-the-ass and that is what is blocking progress in this group.  etc, etc.  There could be so many more ways of looking at this situation that I am not aware of – ways that would be way more empowering for everyone.

My point is – until someone has started the conversation, the pain will continue.

In a prepared audience you can also deliver an unspoken in the midst of a conversation.  Let’s say something is troubling you in the moment as you are speaking to someone, but you have not fully identified or clarified that feeling.  You can say “this is in the nature of a unspoken, but I would like to say…”.  They will understand immediately that you are, essentially, asking for attention around an emotional issue, and if they are wise they will give it.  They might let your statement sit for a minute, savor the opening you have created and appreciating you for it, and then perhaps feeling their own pain (reaction) at what you said and give you a few of their own unspokens.  And you go back and forth on this (ideally) until clarity and harmony emerges.

Which brings us full circle: unspoken are a process for sharing quality attention with others.  They are so, so powerful, and so, so unused.

And the reason this kills me is because… any of us may just be one communication away from the Kingdom of Heaven.  And we don’t do it.  Very sad.

It is also possible that we are a million – or a billion – communications away from the Kingdom of Heaven… but who is counting when we are having fun Smile  ?

5. Activating the Super-Power

Now let’s follow this thought experiment to the end.  Imagine a world where everyone understood some of the principles and practices described here and in the resource list above, and this quality of communication was a matter of course.   What might happen then?  What is the larger meaning of this in human culture and evolution, particularly in the progress of emotional intelligence?

It may be – just consider the possibility – that we are on the threshold of the greatest cultural revolution in human history – a revolution of love.

Imagine this.  As we open up – ask for the things we want, have the important conversations, declare our love and our values, increase the quality of our attention on each other… as we follow George Fox’s advice (“walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in every one”)… we may actually be compensating for each other’s developmental blind-spots (lack of wisdom, perspective, discernment, lack of emotional intelligence and patterned distress).

We may be actually participating in the creation of a kind of collective super-human… one that has all of our combined qualities and that is self-correcting of our faults.

And as this “super-human” emerges and gains in power, as each of us becomes, as it were, an ambassador for this collective super-being… as we speak to the hearts of everyone we meet, and listen back… they will follow-us.  They will throw away their crutches and follow Him (this collective super-human).  Margaret Mead’s “small group of committed people who are changing the world” will become a larger group, then larger still.. and will eventually include everyone on the planet.

Think about it.  (Once again – I apologize for biblical references but I really cannot take credit for this idea, lol)

So – Who is in? (If you are, please comment or share!)

[See also related article: This is the true joy of life...]

Getting to “Game Over” (Part 2)

kindle“Game Over” in internet-marketing parlance is a term coined by blogger (and now successful entrepreneur) Clay Collins.  The term makes me smile for its simplicity and directness (Do entrepreneurs ever get to “game over”?  How dull would that be – isn’t the joy of the chase what we live for?).

And yet it communicates.  Let’s face it, this is what we are about.  Whether we want the real thing (financial independence) or whether we simply want to claim the bragging rights, is an open question.  I suspect that most of us really just want to make a difference and to be seen and acknowledged.

When I had my first big month on the web – oh, back in the Summer of 2011, I made $10k in one month – I wrote a piece with that title.  You can find it in this blog archive, but today I am a bit embarrassed to even read it.  I have had a few successes since that time, this is true; but many more painful lessons.  The Summer of 2011 was definitely not  “Game Over” for Marc Beneteau and WP Academy.  And now I question whether such a thing even exists.

And yet… WP Academy has arrived (and is here to stay), this can no longer be doubted.  The business has enough income to sustain me (albeit on a modest scale right now), while I am creating from my genius.  I have figured out how to be paid to write technical manuals (which I like “better than sex” – another story) – while simultaneously building business equity and a following… how cool is that.  I am stunned.

It has been a 9-year journey, lived (for the most part) at a financial edge that was not at all comfortable for me (to say the least).  I have had many other experiences and adventures in this time as well, experiences that were very rich and utterly transformational; but my work always pulled me back into the vortex… into a zone (often enough) of struggle and self-doubt.  What is the meaning of an entrepreneur who is not making any money?  You complete that sentence for me.

Is there benefit in looking back at a decade-worth of personal and business “work” in order to both celebrate and mourn it?  I would like to think so.

Yet true perspective only comes with time.

Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment”.

– Sufi sage

Business triumphs and challenges

I want to start writing more to this blog, and more personal stuff. After 25 years I am still coming to terms with this crazy lifestyle called “being an entrepreneur”.  Yikes.

imageI spent all of October working intensively on my Magnum Opus, the WordPress Business Encyclopedia.  In just 30 days I have changed my publishing platform  and put my content out to all the major markets – and I do mean pretty well all of them.  I have books on Kindle, Apps on Android, and others in the publishing queue that will be going into iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook, and iPad/iOS apps as well.  It has truly been an extraordinary journey,  and indicative of massive changes in the self-publishing landscape.  I mean… here I am, little-old-me running my tiny business from my bedroom, working this crazy dream of creating the ultimate WordPress & Web Technology help manual… and perhaps even succeeding at it…  while pioneering advances in self-publishing and instructional technology (I made the world’s first “help doc” for WordPress, I have one of the first “video ebooks”, I am the first to publish an app from my particular help authoring software, etc.)   It is all quite unbelievable.  And exhilarating.

And then a few days ago, after 30 days of round-the-clock, borderline-manic work – it was all over (at least the first phase, which is the platform).  I had no sales and was wondering: “What the f___?”.   Am I being completely deluded in thinking that this is good – that anybody will actually buy it?

Which self-doubt was not improved by the fact that the upcoming month is looking a bit dry.  I raised $7000 in August/September from crowd-funding WP Encyclopedia (yes this is “better than a stick in the eye”)… and that money is gone.

But hope springs eternal in the entrepreneur’s breast.  I am banking on a very large JV [Joint Venture list promotion] that is booked later this week (my biggest one since May 2012); and I am hopeful that my idea of permanent crowd-funding will work.  I am not just innovating in instructional technology, I am innovating in business development.  The permanent crowd-funding is my idea too [Ok granted it’s just a sale in disguise but there is a feel-good quality to it that resonates with me.  Whether it will resonate for anyone else is yet unknown]

Just another month in the life of the entrepreneur.

Anyway when this all came down I was feeling seriously sorry for myself for a bit, but I seem to have bounced back [Halleluja].  It’s hard to say what happened exactly, I think I just kind of accepted my destiny, made peace with myself and stopped wishing I had a “real job”.   This project is coming onto four years now and it would just be too stupid to quit right now (possibly right before my greatest triumph).  I just need to move into the next phase, which is 6 months of content development, and hope to stay happy for the time.  And alive.

PS: Update 11/5: I made a few Kindle sales overnight – Yay! – and Google also reporting a few downloads of my free apps, oh happy happy day Winking smile

Join developmentalist Mike Jay and me, 5 Mondays starting tonight (9/9)

Just a quick heads-up that I will be joining my coach and mentor Mike Jay for a 5-week telecourse entitled “Living @FLOW” that begins tonight, Monday 9/9 at 8:30pm.  I would love to see you there.

The course is an experiential lecture/discussion series that explores many issues related to human motivation, happiness, and success.  It is designed to help you navigate the rocky shoals of being human in the 21st century, and presents a re-frame of our “consensus reality” that can be very beneficial to achieving more happiness and success both.  It is an introduction to Mike’s latest thinking on “Living @FLOW”, plus an opportunity to interact with a master coach and developmentalist in person (Each of the live sessions end with a Q&A). Read more >>

Christine Kane Review: Uplevel Your Business 2013 Report

imageMy wife and I attended Christine Kane’s event Uplevel Your Business Live June 2-4, 2013 in Atlanta.  I was so impressed with the event, the program, the community and with Christine herself that I am writing a full, no-holds-barred review. 

Full disclosure: my wife signed up for the year-long program to develop her Sensuality Coaching business, so I am a fan of Christine’s already.  I am a full-time internet marketer / content creator for the last 3 years and I tend to be jaded about internet marketing business opportunities – but Christine Kane nailed it, as you can read in my review below.

Read more >>