The Italian countryside blurs past as I journey from Venice to Florence aboard a high speed train. I love train journeys. Free from anything to do, my mind wanders.
I reflect on the week that has passed. I have had a joyful and profound experience in Berlin, with some extraordinary people.
As I gaze at vineyards and a mountain with a castle on top of it, memories, images, faces, feelings flash through my consciousness.
My mind is updating itself.
I see the critical choices of the past that have led to an unraveling sequence of time, space and phenomena leading to… the manifestation of dreams.
The dream began 10 years ago... in August 2008, in Hong Kong, where I worked as a headhunter in the finance industry.
I spent most of that year, and the year previous in a skyscraper, phoning bankers to persuade them to meet me, so I could persuade them to trust me, so I could persuade them to deal with me.
I had money… but meaning… no, there was none of that. Purpose was a slippery idea spoken about philosophically while puffing on joints.
Is it really real? Is it actually attainable? Or is it all made up?
Of course I tried to find meaning by simply being better, being a decent human.
I could spin a narrative that what I did was part of a global system that benefited people and raised standards of living.
But, for the most part, I knew I was full of sh1t.
We were all cowboys, hustling to get paid.
Lying awake at night, I felt like an imposter posing as a finance professional, pretending to give a shit.
I dreamed of having a purpose. I fantasised about a life where what I did with my time and work felt truly meaningful.
I finally mustered the courage to quit… or should I say, I reached a point where I could no longer take it…
or actually, perhaps the truth is, I reached a stage I sensed myself changing on a deep level and this scared the crap out of me… but whatever the reason, I quit….and in a matter of weeks the global financial crises tore through the world.
Whole banks began to collapse. Shock waves rippled through the world. It became clear that the whole system was deeply corrupt and fundamentally flawed.
The world crumbled into debt and recession because a global economic system allowed money obsessed ego-maniacs to risk clients money to boost self-worth and career prospects.
As all this was happening, I was in a whole other world: Living in Bali, surfing, reading, immersing into a practice of contemplation and meditation that would open me up to a whole new way of living...
Fast forward 9 years….I find myself on the sunny roof top of the Co-Creation Loft, a hub for purpose led business.
I'm here to participate and co-create with Future X, a UK organisation that approaches system change by being the conduit between national policy-makers and purpose led entrepreneurs. They influence government policy and they empower entrepreneurs to approach business as a force for good in the world. They rock.
I've just facilitated a workshop with an awesome group of CEOs and entrepreneurs that have made the trip from Scotland to Berlin… something magic happened that week, and I'm buzzing.
During my workshop, I talked story. Spoke about real-ness, authenticity.
We synced our breath, meditated and collectively dropped into a state of resonance, from which the concept of inner growth and self-transformation became tangible, practical and real.
We de-mystified spirituality, and investigated the core of WHY we do what we do.
On the roof, I'm introduced to an older Gent- the man- Tomas Bjorkman, an applied philosopher and social entrepreneur.
Tomas used to be a banker. Actually, he owned a bank.
Then he bought a yacht, which he named Naughty by Nature.
Then he bought an island, because thats what you do when you are unbelievably rich.
Eventually, Tomas realised that itch just wasn't being scratched. He had his breakthrough. The same type I had in Hong Kong... the same type thousands of people every day are having.
He sold the bank, got rid of Naughty By Nature and he turned his island into a centre for the expansion of human consciousness. He decided to dedicate his life to addressing the problems of the world, by co-creating a more conscious society.
He invites scientists, philosophers, thinkers and doers to come to his island to think boldly about how to create solutions to the problems humanity faces.
He created a foundation dedicated purely to furthering the science and philosophy of transformation, and began investing in social enterprises, and supporting younger entrepreneurs with big ideas to catalyse a global awakening, and systemic change.
Tomas is friendly, and to the point. He has the air of a man who has wasted quite enough time being unconscious, and now he has no more time to waste.
He peppers me with questions. "What philosophy do you read?" "What do you think of Robert Keegan's theories?"
"What are your views on how we can change the economic system?"
Then he looks me dead in the eyes and asks: "What are you doing doing to take action?".
For a moment, I feel like a deer in the headlights. This guy doesn't muck around.
I feel a wave of imposter syndrome flush through me. Space and time enfold to take me back to 2008 in Hong Kong: the imposter feeling. "Why am I here? Do I deserve a seat at this table?"
In a split second I realise I have created this reality, through a million impulses and choices... that could have unravelled in a million realities that do not involve being on this roof-top in Berlin.
I know from experience that this feeling of imposter syndrome is a little skirmish between my ego and my true self... this is a process of levelling up, of becoming more whole.… this is how past, present and future coalesce- these internal micro-second processes that no one else sees.
I reply: "I help people connect the dots between inner change and global change".
He nods, ponders.. smiles. "This is very important work".
This is important work. It's meaningful, and deeply purposeful. And this is the source of clarity I feel as the Italian countryside whizzes by on this train. For the world to change, we must change.
I have changed. And I keep on changing. Sometimes its slow, sometimes fast.
Sometimes, I revert to previous me's and I doubt whether the change has been real. Most of the time it feels solid and integrated.
The proof is in the pudding. This inner change has created a vastly different outer reality.
I'm surrounded by different people who are doing different things. People who have done the inner work and continue to do so. Im co-creating with change-makers. I'm inspiring future change-makers.
In 9 years the distance Ive travelled from being surrounded by insecure Hong Kong bankers showing off their $30k watches, to being here on a sunny rooftop collaborating with open minded, open hearted movers and shakers across the business, political, academic spectrums is vast.
But most important is the change I feel within. I feel fulfilled. Clear. Awake. Purposeful. Life feels emergent and flowing.
Tomas and I chat further and sow the seed for something in the future.
But he has lots of people to connect with, as do I. So we wander off to begin new conversations.
The sun is on my face, as I take a deep breath and take in the Berlin skyline. It's time for a beer.
I'm both living a dream and awakening into new levels of possibility.
Much love, Jiro
p.s This was taken from a letter I wrote myself, which is a great practice by the way. I know there are no tips or instant takeaways, but I hope the story speaks to a part of you, and reinforces that change in life is a inner journey. The inner work pays off.