• April 2012

How to Create the Life You Want

“In the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are and what you want,” writes O magazine columnist Martha Beck.

That’s why we interviewed Beck for this issue of Be Inkandescent! A sociologist with three degrees from Harvard, Beck is the author of several bestselling books that help readers map their way to a more joyful life: Finding Your Own North Star (2002), Steering by Starlight (2008), and her latest, Finding Your Way in A Wild New World.

Beck was named one of the country’s first life coaches in 2002, thanks to an article by USA TODAY. It explained that life coaching guides “give clients the confidence to get unstuck—to change careers, repair relationships, or simply get their act together.” In the last several decades, her national and international workshops, and sophisticated coaching training program, have helped millions bridge the gap.

Sound New-Agey, hippie-dippie—or, perhaps impossible? Decide for your yourself. Below is our interview with Beck, and in our Tips for Entrepreneurs column, she offers ideas on how you can reclaim your true nature to create the life you want.

Ready to pull back the curtain? Then click around this issue and read about the featured companies and professionals who are living the life of their dreams—and helping others to do the same.

  • We traveled to Chicago’s Namaste School to learn how at-risk kids stay healthy and engaged using the power of yoga.
  • Think you can’t live the life you want? “Nonesense,” says life coach Amy Steindler, who ditched her successful career as a financial advisor to become certified in Martha Beck’s life-coaching approach. Her adventures are sure to inspire you.
  • Are you 45+ and want to be an entrepreneur, but don’t know how? Meet Toa Do, whose nonprofit NOVAGATE. helps aspiring small-business owners accomplish their dreams.
  • Want to have sweet dreams in NYC—without spending a fortune? Try The Pod Hotel.

We leave you with this parting thought from Martha Beck, who dedicates her book, “Steering By Starlight:” To you, whenever you’re walking in the dark.

Here’s to your success! Hope Katz Gibbs, Be Inkandescent
Illustration by Michael Gibbs www.michaelgibbs.com

Martha Beck Helps You Find Your Way in a Wild New World

APRIL 2012: HOW TO CLAIM THE LIFE YOU WERE MEANT TO LIVE

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent magazine

“How the hell did you get here? What the hell are you going to do now?” These are the questions that Martha Beck asks—and helps readers answer—in Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, which is her newest book.

To begin, Beck suggests we locate our “inner rhinoceros.” She explains: “It’s the one thing that so fulfills your life’s real purpose that if someone told you, ‘it’s right outside—but watch out, it could kill you!’ you’d still run straight out through the screen door without even opening it. Barefoot.”

Does anything pop to mind? Whether you are shaking your head “yes” or “no,” Beck believes that you do know what your rhino is, but you may not yet know that you know, because, she insists, “the part of you that clearly sees your right life is your true nature, and it doesn’t talk much. But it will awaken in you such happiness that you’ll want it to return again and again.”

Once you figure out what constitutes the thing that makes you tick, your best bet for living happily and prosperously is to go interact with it, says Beck, who insists: “Maximum positive attention (the most valuable resource in this wild new world) comes from being absolutely yourself, operating from your true nature, to connect with the true nature of people, animals, plants, and situations.”

Think this sounds like bunk? Beck knows there are plenty of naysayers out there. But her perspective is provocative: “As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, the pace of technological and social change has reached what statisticians call ‘the knee of the curve’ in an exponential growth pattern. That means that, after many centuries of slow progress from basic fire-making to the Industrial Revolution, we are now inventing more powerful technologies at such a pace that soon the human brain won’t be able to keep up with the machines it has built.

“Even professional futurists have no idea what the world will look like in the coming decades, though they do highlight a few key trends that will almost certainly continue.”

Beck believes these include the following:

1. Individuals now have the power to do things that at any earlier point in human history, only large organizations like governments and corporations could do—such as getting information to billions of people.

2. The means for achieving objectives like this are becoming cheaper, more accessible, and more ubiquitous each day.

3. Knowledge is no longer power, because knowledge is no longer scarce. What is scarce is human attention. Directing human attention is the way people trade good and services—thus how they survive financially—in the wild new world.

4. The qualities that capture positive attention these days aren’t slickness, blandness, and mass consensus (boring), but authenticity, inventiveness, humor, beauty, uniqueness, playfulness, empathy, and meaning (interesting).

5. The most scarce, most coveted resources aren’t high-tech machines or highly developed cities, but “unspoiled” places, people, animals, objects, and experiences.

So how can you identify and heal your true nature to create the life you want?

We asked Beck to shine some light on these topics, and more. Following is our Q&A with the life coach.

Be Inkandescent: Your new book helps guide people through their personal and professional transformations, which you call “technologies of magic.” Tell us how you define this term, and why it’s fundamental.

Martha Beck: Arthur C. Clarke wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So to a rainforest shaman, an iPod looks like magic, and to us, his ability to create psychoactive medications by listening to plants “singing” looks like magic. Our technology is about learning to make silicon chips, his is about learning to hear plants. Don’t believe in his technology? See if his medications work.

The premise of this book is that in the process of becoming the most materially successful culture in history, we forgot much of the ancient “technologies” that our ancestors used to live in harmony with nature. We have been very successful in terms of making stuff, but we’re not so successful at making ourselves happy, or caring for the planet on which our survival depends. I believe we can use the best of our culture (the magic of technology) and the best of less-materialistic traditions (the technologies of magic) to create lives and communities that are simultaneously technically advanced and conducive to the health of our psyches, our bodies, and our natural environments. This starts within each individual, so to some extent, “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World” is a self-help book. But it’s designed to take people beyond healing their own lives, and on to healing other people, beings, places, and situations.

Be Inkandescent: Given that some business people aren’t used to the concept of “magic” yet, what’s the best way to impart your teachings to the skeptical or the ultra-logical?

Martha Beck: I actually don’t believe in magic, and neither did any of the people I found who could do magical-looking things. Our own physicists describe a reality in which every physical thing is actually a field of energy, “entangled” with other fields of energy that may be millions of miles away, and communicate with one another faster than the speed of light. Reading the work of great physicists is more mind-blowing than the strangest ghost story. There’s a monkey at Duke University who can control a robot in Japan simply by imagining that she’s moving her own body!

Despite all this, most of us still hang onto the Newtonian view of ourselves as unrelated, solid bodies clunking around in space. BE SKEPTICAL, but be skeptical in the best tradition of the scientific method. Follow modern physics, which will rock your worldview. Test the claims of anyone who says he or she can do “magic.” Believe what works, throw out the rest. There is nothing that can’t be explained by science. And there’s a tremendous amount of reality that science has not yet explained. Go there.

Be Inkandescent: Now let’s talk about the specifics of the new book. In each of its four parts, you teach readers how to “chart a course through the wild new world using Wordlessness, Oneness, Imagination, and Forming.” Let’s tackle each, starting with the power and importance of Wordlessness. Why is this important, and what are some tips to help our readers accomplish this state, which shifts consciousness out of the verbal part of our brains?

Martha Beck: The verbal part of the brain, which is what we’re taught to focus on almost to the exclusion of all other things, is relatively new to evolution, and full of “bugs.” It’s like a first version of a software program that was rushed to market. The nonverbal portions of the brain are much larger, more powerful, and less prone to error. Dropping out of language and into an awareness of the information coming from the rest of the brain is the first step in creativity, connection, and problem-solving. There are many methods we can use to do this—too numerous to mention here. You can always read the book!

Be Inkandescent: Next, tell us more about Oneness, which enables us to sense the interconnection between our own consciousness and beings that are seemingly unconnected to us. How can we accomplish this in our daily work lives? And how can Oneness help us find and embrace the professional lives we want?

Martha Beck: Oneness is not only the way all mystics perceive reality, but the way we all function in the moments we forget to stay locked in mental stories. Another word for it is “love,” but that’s so misused I want to be careful using it. The moment we slip out of language and into the larger supercomputer of the nonverbal brain, we notice that things we saw as separate from us are actually parts of ourselves.

Neuroscientists now know that our brains are continuously creating new areas that correspond, for example, to the tools we use—a part of your brain is now operating your watch, your car, your clothing, as if these things are part of your body. When we let ourselves feel “one” with anything or anybody, a real connection is created between our consciousness and that supposedly separate entity. This is where we get to the limit of the Newtonian view—but our science and ancient traditions keep telling us it’s true.

As long as we’re able to sense our connection with things, we really can send and receive information through that connection. We’re all wireless communication devices communicating through a field of energy. We can learn to use that reality to function better in every area of our lives.

Don’t stop now! To learn more about Martha Beck’s other books, read our Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Life Coach Martha Beck Asks: Are You Steering by Starlight?

Finding Your Way In A Wild New World is the most recent of several bestsellers that Martha Beck has penned to help millions bridge the gap from a life that doesn’t feel right to one that nurtures their true selves.

Be Inkandescent had the privilege of interviewing the renowned life coach for the April 2012 issue of the magazine. Our discussion continues below.

Be Inkandescent: Once we have mastered Oneness, as well as the magic of Wordlessness, which you talked about earlier, you explain that the next step is Imagination, followed by the idea of Forming our reality. How can we open a line to this skill that children naturally excel at, and that you say will help us “achieve a level of problem-solving that feels like pure fun and looks like pure genius?”

Martha Beck: Most of our biggest problems come from the misuse of our imagination. We imagine a situation or event someone told us we should want, or we imagine a repetition of our past and so create nothing new.

Real imagination isn’t a product of past experience, but a connection of previously unconnected factors that create something unprecedented, a bit like the genes of two people connecting to create a baby who’s utterly unique. If we become very still inwardly (Wordlessness) and very present with everything around us (Oneness), our nonverbal minds begin to make imaginative leaps into the unknown, creating innovative ideas and solutions.

The best way to learn real imagination is to practice “feeling into” the future. Picture yourself feeling your way through an unfamiliar room in the dark. You may be able to see vague shapes, but generally you’ll learn that something is there, and begin figuring out what it is, by feel. You’ve done something close to this if you’ve ever groped for a name you’ve temporarily forgotten. You can feel “what wants to happen” as a nudging sensation. Relaxing and allowing your mind to wander will actually help you correctly intuit your next steps.

Be Inkandescent: From your 2008 book, Steering by Starlight. how can readers use the ideas to fulfill their professional destiny?

Martha Beck: We live in a world totally unlike the professional landscape I encountered when I set out to create my own career. The Internet and other technological innovations now allow individuals and small groups to do what once took a whole government, or a large company. I call this the “wild new world,” and I believe we can only navigate it by dropping the rigid ideas of “productivity” that are based on factory models, and re-learning skills our ancestors used to navigate the land and sea before human society became such a dominant force.

In other words, today not only can your wildest, least conformist, most genuine self make a living, it may be the only part of you that knows how to thrive. This book is designed to help readers reawaken their innate knowledge about how to thrive in a wild state. Using their innate knowledge is both immensely liberating to their true selves, and their best mindset for succeeding professionally. In addition, it will lead to a professional life that in some way serves other people and the world.

Be Inkandescent: How can readers become stargazers? Can they do it from their own home—even it’s a room in an apartment building or a house in the suburbs?

Martha Beck: We are actually, literally, made of stardust. Every atom in your body was formed in the belly of a star, then sent out into the cosmos when that star exploded. That’s how elements other than hydrogen come into existence. You can never escape starlight—it is your own life, the field of energy animating the stardust that comprises your body. All it takes to steer by starlight is inner quiet, and attentiveness to your own feelings of tension or relaxation, stress or delight. Your whole being is steering you; only your mind can imagine otherwise. Quiet the mind and you’ll always find yourself guided by starlight.

Be Inkandescent: What are the three stages of steering by starlight?

Martha Beck: First, you blast out of your mental limitations by dissolving your fear-based, ego-driven thoughts. Then you map out your future by telling new, more interesting stories. Then you make a map by freeing your imagination. Then you move forward by doing just enough work to solve the problems you encounter. It’s all very exciting.

Be Inkandescent: Your 2002 book, Finding Your Own North Star, begins with one of my favorite opening paragraphs: “Right in the middle of my life, I realized that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. It was like I’d wandered off the right path into a very, very bad neighborhood. I don’t even want to remember how scary that space was—makes me feel like I’m gonna die or something. I’m only telling you about it because a lot of good came of it in the long run. I don’t even know how I ended up so far off course. I felt like I was sleepwalking.”

What’s surprising is that the person who wrote that paragraph, “Dan, age 41,” is actually Dante Alighieri, and this loose rendition of the first 12 lines of The Divine Comedy was written around 700 years ago but still speaks to us. What’s wonderful is that it makes 40somethings—and those older and younger—realize that they aren’t the only ones who find themselves off course in midlife. What steps from this book can help our readers?

Martha Beck: For starters, right now make a list of “to do’s” for today, read over each one, and notice how your body reacts. Relaxation means your essential self likes the activity, tension means it doesn’t. Start choosing to do a little more of what makes you relax, and a little less of what causes tension.

Next, notice where you think you “can’t” do things you like, or you “have to” do things you hate. Question those beliefs: they are almost certainly wrong.

Third, name the invisible people who make you think you “have to” do things you hate (your parents, peer group, paparazzi, or whoever) and get them out of your mind using therapy, coaching, horse tranquilizers, explosives, or whatever else you can manage without doing too much harm. Repeat until life is perfect.

Be Inkandescent: The book has a lot of great explanations and tools, and the one I’d love for you to talk more about is the “emotional compass,” which you describe in Chapter 8. Specifically, you talk about the four magic questions. Can you describe those, and explain how they help people assess what they are feeling? How can understanding our emotions be helpful to us at work?

Martha Beck: Here are the four magic questions:

1. What am I feeling? When you answer this, start with physical sensations and move on to emotions. Concepts like “I should be nice” or “Bob is an idiot” aren’t feelings; they don’t count. Guilt and frustration are feelings associated with these concepts: they should be your focus.

2. Why am I feeling this way? This may lead your attention to something that needs to change in your environment, or to a story you’re telling yourself about a past or present situation. This is what emotion is for: to lead your conceptual mind into awareness of a situation and how it’s affecting you.

3. What will it take to make me happy? Make sure you talk about general conditions, not specific things you want specific other people to do. “Bob must love me” is a no-win proposition; “I must have love” is a foundation for positive action.

4. What’s the most effective way to get what I want? This is where you can use the creativity exercises in the latest book to great advantage. Also, it’s where you can benefit most from advice from a friend, therapist, or (best of all!) a coach. If you can ask and answer these questions as you move through every day, you’ll quickly move into the best possible life situation for you—which may be nothing like the best situations for me. Your emotional compass is set to serve you and you alone!

Be Inkandescent: Last, but not least, you have a strong and growing coaching program. Please tell us about how that works, who can apply, how many Martha Beck-certified coaches there are currently—and how it feels to have so many members of your “team” helping people achieve the lives they desire.

Martha Beck: By some process I don’t understand, the most amazing people on earth have joined our tribe of coaches. These people become INCREDIBLY amazing as they clean out their own lives and minds during their training (we operate under the premise that we must “live it to give it,” so coaches get good and clear). Anyone who really wants to can join us; just check it out at marthabeck.com and see if resonates with your essential self. We teach simple but extremely powerful tools to help people get out of their own way and create lives that are a perfect fit to each person’s sense of destiny.

Right now we have about 350 coaches (if you think that’s a lot, consider that it’s only about one coach for every million Americans, not to mention to rest of the world). I am literally reduced to tears of gratitude every time I really think about this tribe of clear, bright, powerful, loving people.

If you want to hang onto your interior clutter—your addictions, your fears, your general denial—you’re not going to like it and you shouldn’t sign up. But if you’re ready to follow your own North Star and the coach-training program feels enticing, jump right in! The water is AWESOME!

Be Inkandescent: We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to be our Entrepreneur of the Month. We wish you the very best in all of your endeavors, and look forward to reading your monthly columns in O magazine.

Martha Beck: Thank you so much!

For for information about Martha Beck’s books, insights, and coaching program, visit www.marthabeck.com.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

– John Quincy Adams

If people like you they’ll listen to you; if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

– Zig Ziglar

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

– Chinese proverb

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leo Jozef Suenens

Do not be afraid of mistakes, providing you do not make the same one twice.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

A truly forgiving person is someone who experiences all the anger merited by injustice and still acts with fairness and compassion.”

– Martha Beck

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.”

– Aristotle

Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”

– Betty Smith

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

If you would create something,
 you must be something.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

He who wants to tear down a house must be prepared to rebuild it.”

– African Proverb

Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic selves. We must learn to respect them. We must learn to listen.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
 what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Death is to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”

– Thomas Wolfe

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try going to sleep with a mosquito in your room.”

– A wisdomism

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.”

– Goldie Hawn

No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”

– Martha Beck, from "Leaving the Saints"

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”

– J. Kristnhamurti, The First and Last Freedom

Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make Me Feel Important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

– Mary Kay Ash

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

– JFK

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.”

– Tony Robbins

There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

– Christopher Morley

A man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.”

– Chinese Proverb

A people who mean to be their Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

– James Madison

They who give have all things. They who withhold have nothing.”

– Hindu Proverb

When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

– Audre Lorde

Entrepreneurs willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.”

– Victor Kiam

Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”

– Gandi

‎Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

– Booker T. Washington

I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

– Marty Skler, executive vp, Walt Disney Imagineering

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.”

– Jack Kerouac

If you were independently wealthy and never had to work a day in your life, would you still choose to spend your time attempting to become a successful entrepreneur?”

– Steven Schussler

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