Presence Power

Heart-pitality

I had such an AMAZING time speaking to Embassy Suites executives today! Embassy Suites service culture is centered on “Making A Difference.” It means they charge themselves with being gracious, engaging and caring… in ways large and small, with their guests, their staff, and their communities. #beautiful

My keynote was all about Heart, and how every single one of us can always open our heart even wider. When we do we the positive impact we make expands. I also illustrated how Heart drives customer loyalty and employee retention. As I said in my keynote, great companies aim for your heart, not your wallet.

The event also marked the first time I was able to share my new book, When You Are Bursting, with an audience. I deeply appreciated Embassy Suites giving out copies to all their execs in attendance.

Always feel so honored and happy to get to add my voice to such purposeful, heart-centered conversations.

Thank you Embassy Suites. You’re an EPIC company leading the way to heart-centered business.

NO Hugs Allowed!

NO hugs allowed. That’s how far the punishment goes.

You see, I went to give him a hug because he’d just inspired me so deeply. He’d just shared his amazing life story with me, and it blew open my heart and my soul. So of course, I didn’t just want to shake his hand and thank him – I wanted to give this man a hug.

When he extended his hand to say goodbye, I pulled him in for a hug. He stiffened… but I pulled him in anyhow.

Then I heard the rules,

“NO hugging! Only handshakes.”

This was the moment I felt the deepest sorrow over just how far away we’ve thrown away these human beings.

Today, I went into a maximum security prison for the first time. I spent the afternoon with inmates, men who’ve been locked away for decades, many of which have been sentenced to life.
The man I wanted to hug, Lionel, had been in for 20 years and wasn’t getting out any time soon.

No hugs allowed.

Driving in, I wanted to cry just seeing the prison from the outside. I can assure you, we’ve locked these people as far away from sight as possible and in the most desolate of conditions. No grass. No trees. No greenery. No colors. No art.

Just concrete, cages and barbed wire.

I went as a volunteer to help coach these prisoners to tell their stories at their first TEDx-DonovanCorrectional event, coming up in May.

The prisoners chose their own theme for the TEDx – “Looking Beyond the Surface.” Having been in there with them now, I get it.

Beyond the surface of a concrete facility in the middle of bleak and unforgiving desert is place that is filled with men who arrived as kids and who – if they are ever allowed leave- will leave gray-haired, institutionalized and old.

Beyond the surface of blue uniforms marked with “CDCR PRISONER” in extra-large yellow letters, are souls who are surviving realities that stretch the human spirit to dimensions impossible for most of us to comprehend.

This cruel place with its condemned people cracked my heart open wide and in rushed love, sorrow, inspiration and compassion.

They told me their stories.

Their stories showed me beyond the prison garb, the face, the crime and into the heart, the humanity, the universality, the oneness of us all.

I saw their light. I felt my own.

I will return many times to help them be ready to stand and speak on a red TEDx carpet – on a stage inside a high security prison – and courageously use their voices to spread hard-earned truths about love, regret, forgiveness, belief, faith, hope, choices, purpose, and the human spirit.
I will be there to let these men take me Beyond the Surface, where much deeper truths are hidden.
And although there will be no hugging, I’m certain love will carry the day.

Click here now more information on TEDx DonovanCorrectional which will be held May 21:
https://www.facebook.com/tedxdonovancorrectional
A day of mind- and heart-expanding big ideas shared through talks by inside and outside speakers and performers, held at Donovan State Prison in San Diego

Hustled by Hustle.

I just unfollowed best-selling author, Gary Vaynerchuck, (Author of Crush It). I’ll share why I did (and it’s purely personal bc he seems like a great guy).

Gary V has been broadcasting a message of “hustle your face off” for a good five years now. He preaches what he himself describes as an “insane work-ethic.”

If hustling your face off is for you – hear me please – good on you. Hustle creates great results. Behind every great endeavor, is a lot of hustle.

But an insane worth-ethic is just not for me anymore. Nor is “hustling my face off.” Honestly, I don’t even think it looks good on Gary V. To me, he looks really tired, stressed and full of tension in his videos lately. Reminds me of what an Native American Chief once said to Carl Jung:

“Chief Mountain Lake: ‘See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.’

To me, Gary V comes across as a guy that has no concept of “enough.” He seems to work for the sake of significance. More. More. More. More.

I have undergone a personal change in my life, and for me now, life is better when I infuse all of my days with as much ease, presence and joyful action as possible. Yes, I take actions on my dreams because I still have dreams and love realizing them. But “hustle” is a word I’ve basically eliminated from my vocabulary. It’s been replaced by “create joyfully.”

I like my new way much much better. I found hustle was an awful boss. Hustle didn’t have as much time for my kids. Hustle didn’t condone a long coffee with a friend. Hustle didn’t have room for a day off to do nothing but relax and get back in touch with the quiet voice inside. Hustle loved every time I’d end a long work day wiped out spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Hustle kept me in my mind and out of my heart. In other words, hustle didn’t give a shit about soulful things.

Today, I have the highest regard for actions that come from inspiration, ease, presence and joy – these are the actions I trust in. Not actions that come from stress, tension, exhaustion, and a mind that can’t get enough.
And I like my face. I don’t want it to fall off. And I like my face much better when I look relaxed, content and at peace.

Getting Down the Heart of the Matter

I gave two keynote speeches this week, one to a large hotel chain and the other to professionals at colleges and universities, and I’m happy to say both talks were on the topic of coming from the heart more often.

Connection, empathy, kindness, love, heart – these are the new essential “brass tacks” in business because they create loyalty, wow, delight and fulfillment.

Stay Young at Heart

I live with a person who dresses up in costumes about every day.

In this photo, he was a “Wild Kratt.” The other day he was a secret agent. Last week a cowboy. Just after New Years he jumped out an attacked me as Green Arrow. The kid is starring in his own action movies about every day of his life.

But he’s still young and has much to learn. Thank God he has me.

Monday, on a drive home from Los Angeles, him and I hoped to ride a Ferris Wheel we’d seen on the way to Los Angeles, visible from the freeway..

But as we drove past, the Ferris Wheel wasn’t operating.

Will was disappointed and being just 7 and vastly inexperienced in the great art of life, thought we should just continue on our drive home, sad that it was closed.

The kid has so much to learn. Thank God he’s got a dad.

“No Will, we should stop anyway! One thing I’ve learned about life is stop and check things out. It’s almost always fruitful to stop and check out new places, especially places you’re interested in. Good things come from stopping and checking it out. We walk to it. We stand in front of it. We see the times it’s open. We see the ticket prices. We stare up at it in awe. We do all of this and it draws us so much closer to the day we actually ride it! … If we just drive by, we’re no closer to our dream of riding it.”

So we did stop.

Well all be damned, turns out the Ferris Wheel was open! And we rode it.

After the Ferris Wheel, we discover the world’s greatest candy store. The seriously greatest, most epic, gobsmacking, unbelievable candy store in the history of the world. I know because Will says, “I can’t calm down! I can’t calm down!”

We emerge with three new Tic Tac Flavors – we are professional Tic Tac lovers – and with four of the weirdest soda’s on Earth: Bug Barf soda, Bubble Gum soda, Chocolate soda, and Peanut Butter & Jelly soda.

Then we decide to hit Dave & Buster’s.

Between us and the door was a straight line of about 20 feet.

I’m ready to proceed, but Will says,

“Wait! Dad! We can only walk where there are shadows!”

I pause. And assess.

Looked impossible. Not many shadows leading to the door.

Unless….

We make like Tom Cruise entering a bank on a Mission Impossible.

So we jumped. We wall climbed. We stretched. We shimmied. We retreated. And it took a long time to cover 20 feet. And at times it didn’t look like we were going to make. But we freakin succeeded!

As I grab for the Dave & Buster’s door, I realize, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to proceed the way a Wild Kratt or a Secret Agent would… I don’t play enough. I should play a little every day. Or a lot. Yes, as much as possible. Playing keeps you young.

Jeez, I have so much to learn. Thank God I’ve got a son.

The next day, we go to the top of a mountain for the view, drawn by an especially clear day. Will teaches me it’s better to jump for your photos.

Hold Your Opinions Loosely

So two days ago, in a beautiful conversation with friends, I found myself exerting my opinions as if they were True. (Good sweet opinions btw. Lovely opinions if I do say so myself, which I just did. ; )

Any how, on this particular occasion, the old me showed back up and I went so far as to “kindly” exert why my opinion was Truer than my friend’s. Yeah, I was being THAT guy. (Man 0, Ego 1).

Well, within minutes of doing it, I felt sick inside as I realized the error of my ways. The only real Truth going on in that moment wasn’t my opinions, it was that I was over identifying with my thoughts, and being non-peace.

I have lots of opinions. All day long. (And damn good ones!) But I’ve learned I’m not my opinions. They’re just a bundle of my thoughts. And I am not my thoughts so there is no need defend them. I can just offer them.

Finding Peace of Mind

I used to take some time to quiet my mind. Sit on a cushion now and then and meditate a little. It was nice enough. But nothing earth shattering. And yes, it made me a little more relaxed. But never anything worth keeping up as a habit.

But two years ago I discovered something completely worth doing… A practice of observing my thoughts – not while sitting on a cushion – but throughout my day.

And the more I listened, the less I liked.

What I heard were the thoughts of madman: Repetitive, worrisome, fearful, fantasy-based, anxious, needy, ugly, mean-spirited, argumentative, egotistical, insecure, guilty, unforgiving, greedy, spiteful, and obsessive.

Sure I had nice thoughts as well, loving, kind, romantic, generous, productive. Of course I did, we all do.

But what of all those other nasty little thoughts that were talking through out my day? What was the cost of those thoughts on my happiness, peace, fulfillment and joy?

The cost was easy to see… Unhappiness, anger, resent, sadness, worry, stress, fear… upset and pain.

My practice became a game for me that went like this:

1. I feel upset right now. What am I thinking?

2. [catch the elusive little thoughts silently running in the background but always causing the upset. Hear them for their exact wording. See them for exactly what they were, just thoughts in my head.]

3. Breathe and Breathe and Breathe. Because I learned you can’t take a deep breath and think at the same time.

And with that, I’d swap my ill-thoughts for a little silence of mind. Definitely harder some days than others.

This had the most unexpected reward…

It revealed the only enemy I’ve ever actually had. And the enemy has been there my entire life hiding in plain sight: Hiding in my head, disguised as none other than me! (brilliant btw).

The more I silenced the enemy, the more I knew what the enemy was trying to hide from me: actual freedom.

Best thing I’ve ever discovered.

We’re All a Little Crazy

I laughed at myself so hard two years ago when I realized I was almost as nuts as the crazy person talking to themselves out loud and having arguments with people who weren’t there…. This is my story.

(I shared it on FB yesterday more people have viewed it and shared it than any other video I’ve made, so apparently I’m not alone).

 

Rather than trying to give you the highlights of this video, I’m going to let it speak for itself. The highlights wouldn’t do the story justice. So I hope you’ll watch it and post a comment about it so I know what you thought.

Thank you for being on my newsletter list, for receiving my work in the world, for trusting me, and in the case of so many of you, for being a friend. We’re all in this thing called life together, and I’m no good alone. I think we all need one another, and I think we all need to help one another by sharing our gifts and talents with as many people as we can.

I encourage you to reach out to me directly to make a connection. I love meeting like-minded people. 

Living Present, Passionate, and Purposefully,

Patrick Combs