50/50 vision

As I am turning 50 today I look back on my interesting life so far trying to distil some personal learnings to share with others. Sometimes I wonder if this was the last day of my life what would I say to my kids, friends or just anyone else around?

In Polish we say „Mądry Polak po szkodzie”, which, in loose translation, means that hindsight is better than foresight. So for what it’s worth I would like to share my 50 (one per each year of my life) teachable points of view that randomly come to mind at this moment. As I scan my life I try to capture its various aspects like personal and family matters, spirituality, building relationships, physical activity, business, intelectual etc. The below list is a mix of borrowed wisdom I have read or heard from others and my own reflections.

1. It is better to be happy than right.

2. The best things in life are free.

3. Simple things like being a good husband, father, cooking, gardening, creating friendships, acting truly freely, saying „I’m sorry”, „Thank you”; „Please” are the most difficult.

4. Professional/athletic/academic carreers, titles, award, victories etc are soooooo overrated.

5. Daily discipline in practicing good habits and/or killing bad ones is perhaps the most effective development tool.

6. My most powerful daily habit: 15 min examination (according to St. Ignatius method) of the day with its opening point of appreciation practice and subsequent reflexion on personal developmental moments and failures (sins).

7. Self-awareness is the starting point in a positive transition in life.

8. Waking up to become fully aware is tough.

9. The most valuable and raw feedback source are your spouse/partner and kids.

10. Be confident and humble at the same time.

11. Man proposes and God disposes. Act as if everything depended on you and believe as if everything was in God’s hands.

12. Always be learning something new – cultivate the beginner’s mind.

13. Be careful whom you surround yourself with – you are the average of 10 people you spent most of your time with.

14. You can only have a few good and close friends. The rule of 5 loved ones, 15 good friends, 50 friends, 150 meaningful contacts (Dunbar number) etc.

15. Get rid of stuff regularly. Make your life lighter.

16. The more things you own, the more they own you.

17. Practice good listening. That is why we have just one mouth but two ears to listen way more than to speak.

18. A good moment for listening practice is at social gatherings. Most people there want to just talk.

19. Always have and create mutiple options in life.

20. No one lies better to us than ourselves.

21. The longest journey in life is between our head and our heart.

22. Everybody is fighting their battles daily.

23. Love difficult people. You are one of them.

24. We are all more similar than different.

25. We are all believers – what differs is just the subject of our faith.

26. We can hardly make ourselves happy, let alone others. So do not expect too much of others.

27. Opportunity x Openess (Readiness) = SUCCESS

28. If you want to have a fit and healthy body remember that it is ca. 80% about having the right diet and only 20% about keeping an active life style. Many of athletes, myself included, often want to believe it is the other way around.

29. In training recovery is equally important as physical effort.

30. Best exercise: HIIT – high intensity interval training.

31. Spritituality is the most practical aspect of life.

32. Developing our virtues in essence is developing our ability to be a good/better person. Dealing with our sins (the opposite of virtues) has the same result.

33. Writing/giving a short speech/presentation is way more difficult than a lengthy one.

34. Number one job in the world: being a good spouse/partner. Number two job in the world: being a good parent… all the other jobs/roles we play dwarf compared with these two.

35. In moments of personal frustrations we sometimes say world/God is unfair. Looking at it more deeply, however, one can see surprising fairness. Every good state, high status, success, fame, money etc has in it a seed of failure. On the other hand, life diffculties, challenges we experience, bear with them an opportunity for great personal discoveries and rebirth.

36. That is why it is so exhilirating and rewarding to be looking for and engaging in activities/things that do not have the downside effects such as prayer/meditation, gardening, cooking, spending quality time with your spouse/kids, co-workers, being nice to people including those who are not nice to us etc.

37. Trust and good reputation is the most valuable currency in both personal and professional lives.

38. Passion and discipline beat competence and experience.

39. Being/running a good business for all your stakeholders (not just some of them) will get you far.

40. Making money is simply a byproduct of doing many other things right and not a worthy purpose in itself.

41. While piloting be always a few steps „ahead of the plane” – anticipate.

42. Professional „friendships” are rare.

43. Someone who is no longer your friend probably never had been one.

44. A good friend is somobody who, from time to time, and in the spirit of love, tells you some bitter truth about yourself.

45. Three most difficult things in life :(1) Respond with Love to Hatred; (2) Accept/receive the rejected ones; (3) Admit to your mistakes.

46. People who reject us, often unknowingly, do us a huge favor.

47. Watch what you consume (food, news, books, movies/series etc).

48. Things either elevate our spirits or supress them.

49. Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

50. And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love (1 Cor 13,13).

Opublikowano Reflections | Otagowano | 1 komentarz

Quitting at the top

In recent weeks two successful people in separate professional domains, tv&you.tube entertainment and football informed the public opinion about their intention to quit their current jobs. One of them, James Corden, is a globally known English actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, and television host (The Late Late Show with James Corden that aired on from 2015 to 2023). The other one is a rising Polish football coach, Marek Papszun, who over the past couple of years led a rather unknown Polish football club from Third to First division winning a couple of trophies along the way and on a clear trajectory to win the First Division this year.

Interestingly these two guys share a few common traits. Both of them are in their 40s, went through humble beginnings of their careers and are currently at the peak of their careers with great prospects of continuing it for the years to come. Yet both of them decided to quit what they have been doing so far!


Many commentators, especially in the case of Marek Papszun, try to explain this surprise decision by creating some theories of burnout, potential clashes with the club owner over money, new player transfer policy, potential illness etc. The underlying rationale of those opinions is that you simply cannot quit when you are still relatively young and in your peak form! Sounds like a strong projection!

What they fail to recognize and respect, however, is that both James and Marek have declared clearly in many interviews that the main reason behind their decisions is to focus more on their families. Bravo to that!!!

In one of the tv interviews James was particularly emotional saying when he realized how few years he had left to bond with his children before they mature. You can enjoy any job as much as you like yet the demands on being a host of a successful tv show or a being a football coach are very intense pushing often the family matters to the margin.

Quitting something sounds rather negative in the modern world. Yet this is just one side of the coin! These decisions cloud even more important decisions these two brave gentlemen made – making room on what matters most for them, i.e. focusing on their families. After all there is not much we will leave behind in this world after our death. Well raised, happy and loving kids could be that one great legacy of ours!

Opublikowano family, Reflections | Otagowano , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Unexpected evening

Last night I went on my bike to the start/finish line to watch and support about 13,000 runners in the popular Wroclaw night half-marathon. The evening was very warm with the asphalt still radiating heat from the hottest day this year. I felt sorry for the participants as the running conditions were not great. And then came along a guy…

He was running late to the starting line with two numbers in his hand. He looked at me and said: I have a spare bib. Would like to have it and run? I had not much time to make the decision as they were already starting different pace groups so as said to him: I’ll take it. The rest is history. After attaching my bike to a fence and the gifted number to my shirt I started running with no preparation, no warmup and a desire to overtake a lot of slower athletes in front of me to get into the right rhythm in the first kilometers. It was crazy but worth it😃🍺

That adventure reminded me of a popular formula for success: OPPORTUNITY x READINESS.

Life is full opportunities that present themselves sometimes very unexpectedly. All it takes is just to open up and embrace them.

Opublikowano Reflections, Refleksje, Sport | Otagowano , , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Rola na całe życie

Wielu mężczyzna ma ten przywilej, że może pełnić w życiu jedną z najpiękniejszych ról, jakie można sobie wyobrazić. Jest to rola, która wymaga od nas wiele pokory, ciągłego doskonalenia, która każdego dnia czymś nas zaskakuje i która z upływem czasu ewoluuje zmieniając nieco akcenty na rozmaite kwestie. Spośród innych funkcji pełnionych przez nas, mężczyzn, wyróżnia ją to, że jest to rola na całe nasze życie a po jego zakończeniu pozostaje po niej trwały ślad. Mam na myśli Ojcostwo.

W ubiegłą sobotę miałem przyjemność aktywnie uczestniczyć w konferencji Tato.net. Jest to coroczne wydarzenie będące ukoronowaniem działań organizacji pod tą samą nazwą zajmującej się promowaniem dobrych praktyk w trudnej sztuce bycia tatą. Jak powiedział założyciel tego ruchu, tatą się nikt nie rodzi lecz staje się w miarę upływu czasu. Na nasze ojcostwo wpływają rozmaite czynniki jak przykład naszych rodziców, własne doświadczenia, w tym porażki i sukcesy rodzicielskie, czy też nasza otwartość na to, aby stale się doskonalić w tej chyba najtrudniejszej roli dla mężczyzny.

Najbardziej poruszającym dla mnie aspektem tego spotkania było doświadczenie żywej obecności ponad 400 ojców reprezentujących rozmaite profesje, grupy wiekowe, regiony Polski i nie tylko, którzy „marnują” wiele godzin na to, żeby się autentycznie wzajemnie zainspirować jak być lepszym tatą. To dla mnie przykład prawdziwego Męstwa – jednego z motywów przewodnich tegorocznego forum.

Męstwo rozumiem przede wszystkim jako odwagę do tego, aby się przyznać przed samym sobą, że potrzebuję się jeszcze sporo uczyć czy też oduczać rozmaitych nawyków. Wszystko po to, aby budować zdrowe relacje z dziećmi, wspierać je w ich rozwoju, dawać im dobry przykład, być otwartym, uważnym, autentycznym, kochającym. Aby po prostu z nimi i dla nich być … „Tu i Teraz”.

Cieszę się, że istnieje taki ruch, który wspiera dobre ojcostwo i że miałem okazję zarówno zainspirować innych jak i być wielokrotnie zainspirowanym.

Opublikowano Męstwo, Ojcostwo, Refleksje, Rodzicielstwo, Tato.net, Tu i teraz, uważność | Otagowano , , , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Business or Economy Class?

During a check-in at Tenerife airport today I had a peculiar observation. There were three lines for passangers flying with Lufthansa to Munich: two for Economy and one for Business and First Class passangers.

The two Economy stands opened a bit earlier and the check-in started quite smoothly. Then the Business class line opened and … problems started to appear.

Business class passengers immediately formed a new line and several passengers from the Economy lines (with Business Class status) starting moving across to the Business line as well. What was strange about that whole development was the fact that even those who were close to be checked-in in Economy lines and be done with it insisted on being in the Business line. It did not matter that their check-in would be 15-30 min longer. Besides, they would go through the same check-in procedure as everybody else. No special treatment. Just a doubtful privilage of being associated with the „better” passangers.

It is so weird how status can affect us and our often unreasonable choices.

So which Class line position would you rather be: Economy but faster or Business/First Class?

Opublikowano Observations, sabbatical | 1 komentarz

Balloon lessons

Even though I am an aviation enthusiast and a private pilot I followed closely the famous Gordon Bennett balloon competition for the first time in my life. What an exciting race full of unexpected turnarounds this has been!

My interest was prompted by the fact that this time around Poland, i.e. the city of Torun, was hosting the event and after the first two days of flying one of the Polish crews (Poland -2) was leading with a large margin. After taking an early and brave move Pol-2 started shifting away from the rest of the pack going south-west in bad weather while most everybody else was going east or hovering somewhere in north-eastern Poland. Unfortunately the Pol-2 had to land in south-western Germany having covered almost 1000 km from the starting point.

While many other crews shared the fate of Pol-2 being forced to land their hydrogen-filled balloons either due to air traffic (ATC) restrictions, technical problems or reaching the border with Russia or Belorussia a few remained airborne. Among them was a French crew (Fra-2) and a Swiss one (Sui-2). With some great tactics, right altitude and favorable weather Fra-2 soon overtook Pol-2 in distance covered. Heading toward central France they seemed a clear favorite to win 2021 Gordon Bennett. Sui-2 was hundreds of kilometers away. Due to shortage of ballast and ATC restrictions Fra-2 had to land eventually heaving covered 1556 km while Sui-2 was still in the air. Yesterday after 85 hours of non-stop flight the Swiss team overtook Fra-2 and landed safely scoring 1560 km and winning this very exciting race.

The gas balloon racing turns out to be a very interesting and beautiful sport. It is too bad it receives so little coverage in the media and public interest. The official Gordon Bennett YouTube TV channel had only a few hundred daily views. So to fill this gap I would like to share a few observations and lessons I took from this race and this sport in general:

1. Sometimes the best strategy to win is restraining yourself from moving with everybody else. Just wait and see. Keep you options open. The urge to act these days is so strong that doing nothing, waiting, seems so unnatural and weird.

2. One of the critical success factors for the winning team was relying on their support center. They were composed of ATC specialists, meteorologists etc.
Teamwork is often used as a catchword in business and often misunderstood for something else such as group think or other team dysfunctions. Trusting the feedback from those support teams often headquartered far away from where the action was happening was essential for the crew who were executing the flight.

3. Piloting a gas balloon is both complicated and fairly straightforward. Two main control levers are the amount of ballast (sand bags) and amount of gas (hydrogen, helium) in the balloon. To increase altitude you get rid of ballast, to decrease it you release gas from the balloon.

Just like in life to get down to earth we need to let some steam off or sometimes even prick our ego-balloon. Conversely to move away from the early problems shedding some “life ballast” that anchors us is necessary.

4. Watching the closing interviews with various participating crews I was smiling seeing their joie de vivre. You could not just tell who the winner was. All participants were extremely happy to have landed safely respectful of their competitors exuding a great sense of humor, sportsmanship and camaraderie. What a refreshing perspective far from our polarized world!

Opublikowano Reflections, sabbatical, Sports | Otagowano , , , | Dodaj komentarz

What is the best sport …?

It has been quite an intense period in the world of sports in the past few weeks. EURO 2020, Copa America, Tour de France or the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo. For me, an amateur and active athlete for many years, it is a time of celebration and enjoyment of those exciting events. The athletic competitions remain one of few genuine spectacles of drama, romanticism, strategy, spectacular upsets or victories of underdogs.

It is not common for me to cry yet some of the events I have watched recently made me really emotional and tearful. Those include the victories of Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting) and Flora Duffy (triathlon) winning first Olympic Gold medal ever for their respective countries, the Philippines and Bermuda.

While many complain about various aspects of the current Games such as lack of live spectators or poor performance of the representatives of their countries I enjoy them immensely. Thanks to the modern technology (Eurosport Player) I watch various Olympic sports at convenient times, especially those that are not so popular or easy to come by such as sailing, rugby 7, 3×3 basketball, archery to name a few rarities.

Watching those sports and looking back on my past 13 years and 10,000 hours of pretty intense triathlon training regime for a non professional athlete I have been pondering the question:

What’s the best sport?

Many years ago I read an interesting paper in NYT searching for a similar answer. It queried a number of physiologists who tended to differ on the subject. The authors used pretty sensible criteria to evaluate and rank all kinds of physical activities. They included the accessibility, sustainability, muscle amount activisation, M.E.T. – metabolic equivalent to task (a measure of energy exerted for a given activity) or time needed to achieve best results.

Simplicity is a natural assessment factor. Many of us do not have access to such facilities as a swimming pool or hippodrome for example. What also matters is how strenuous and potentially boring an activity can be or can become over time. In other words can we stick with it for years or lose heart after promising few first weeks or months of practice. Obviously in terms of the last criterion the most “attractive” sport would be the one requiring very little time effort and huge cardio and muscle gains.

With such criteria the article concluded the worst exercise to be butterfly swim and the best one sprinting up the stairs.

Relating this question to my own experience I decided to first identify my favorite of the three sports that make up triathlon (swimming, cycling, running).

My choice was clear and unequivocal. So here is my personal ranking.

My Bronze Medal goes to swimming. It is a sport activating large muscle groups. It is also relatively safe and body toning. While swimming I probably have the least amount of mental distractions giving me a great respite. On the other hand I cannot deny it’s pretty boring. Wall to wall, lap after lap, gasping for air and tasting chlorine are not particularly uplifting moments. Due to COVID-19 closure of many pools I have not done my regular swim laps for a year, which actually felt like a personal relief. The aquatic element is so alien. Besides the motion effiency is so poor that only mere 4% of energy exerted by best swimmers is efficient, i.e. giving us actual propulsion. The rest is spent on fighting drag.

Running, which takes second place in my ranking, has its own pros. It is one of the simplest sports to do. Arguably it is requires virtually nothing, not even the running sneakers. It can be pretty social for those seeking company or encouragement. Yet it is injury prone especially for those who do not stretch their body properly pre and post exercise. Due to such an injury I have had to reduce my runs to zero for months at a time and I have also not really missed them that much.

So this leaves me with my favorite of the three, i.e. biking. I love this sport so much that I am actually riding a stationary bike trainer while typing this post on my device in my pain cave.

Where does this love of mine come from?

First of all, it is a great sport allowing to explore many interesting places both in my native Poland or around the world. My passion for cycling surprised me a bit recently. I have just realized I have spent more kilometers in the saddle that in my car or plane seat as a private pilot in the past 12 months. If you challenged me many years ago to average 67 km per day in 365 days straight I would say it is close to impossible. In hindsight it feels like a breeze though.

Using NYT criteria the sport of cycling ranks high in terms of its sustainability. It is hard to get bored with it even with so many hours spent. You can visit different places, meet different people, ride in different seasons on different types of bike . They include a road, TT (time trial), gravel, MTB bikes or a simple foldable cruiser I often use to commute.

In terms of changes it is a great activity for fashionistas like me. Wearing colorful and matching cycling attire simply adds more color to life. Plus it makes you visible on the road.

Since most of cycling training is aerobic it is also a great way to control your weight.

So is this really the best sport? Not necessarily. Though I am an avid fan and perhaps a bike addict I can see some of its drawbacks. Riding a bike can be dangerous. Close encounters with drivers are not uncommon. You can mitigate that risk riding smart and avoiding congested areas or using a bike trainer. If you fancy nice bikes this sport can also become quite expensive. Professional road bikes can cost in excess of 15,000 USD a piece. It is also time consuming.

In my opinion the answer to the question of best physical activity is definitely very subjective. I strongly believe that we all have our own predisposition toward a particular physical activity. It is very much tailored to our personality. Some people, like me, enjoy long endurance sports that mix individuality with a degree of group activity. Others feel best and are motivated in team sports. Then there are those who just need one opponent facing them like in tennis or paddel.

Finding your favorite sport is a valuable personal discovery. After all it is not so simple nor obvious. I have met people who tortured themselves physically by running marathons for example because it was trendy in their circles. Such a quasi-hobby is often a source of personal misery undermining motivation. It can also lead to extreme fatigue and injuries. Instead of improving our physical and mental health such a sport becomes an extension of our personal or professional distress that we want to avoid in the first place.

When looking for the best physical activity for ourselves it is helpful to gauge if it really serves us well. Do we look forward to it most od the time? Do we really enjoy it or do it because it is in fashion at the moment?

If you cannot decide just on just one choice you can be, like me, a allround, multisport athlete.

So what’s your favorite sport?

Opublikowano sabbatical, Sport, Sports | Otagowano , , , , , , , , , , | 1 komentarz

Spiritual exercises

Don’t ask the world to change … you change first

Anthony De Melo

I have just switched off airplane mode after not using my phone for 8 straight days receiving a very rare message: your weekly screen time decreased dramatically in the previous week. Amazing! It feels that in my ordinary life my screen time tends to increase slightly every so often. I highly recommend such a digital detox particularly coupled with an activity I describe below.

As a side note, a thought came how much time that has been given to me I waste everyday on things not generating any goodness. I like the expression “is given to me”. Apparently in Hebrew the verb “to have” does not exist. Instead the Jewish people say that something is given to them. What a change in perspective! Just beautiful!

Speaking about screen time I have been happy for quite some time not to watch television, nor listen to the radio, unless music only. I tend to avoid written media and all kinds of information portals as well, which are not designed predominantly to provide facts and unbiased information but mostly to generate our clicks. After all the key objective of this broadly defined entertainment business (Where is all the good journalism gone?) is to grab and keep our attention for as long as possible. Unfortunately we, often unknowingly, let to be distracted by all kinds of tricks and people claiming to speak on our behalf. In this way we lose the most precious resource we have – our time and attention.

A very effective way to defy this overwhelming and overstimulated reality is the practice of different kinds of meditation, contemplation or prayer. This can be practiced on a daily basis as well as through prolonged periods of seclusion aimed to stimulate our self-awareness, self-reflection and deepening our relationship with God.

For a few years now I have had an annual habit of dedicating 8 straight days for my spiritual life. It takes a form of attending so-called Spiritual Exercises, aka Ignatian Meditations. Looking at it from our typical life perspective which is full of running errands, making and spending money or some other life organizing activities, contemplating selected scenes from the Holy Bible may seem as a waste of time.

It may also be viewed as a painful luxury to spend 8 days without talking, watching, listening, reading, surfing. How unpractical! Contemplating stories from 2000 years ago.

On the contrary! For me there is nothing more practical in life than our spiritual development. That’s where everything starts and ends. It is here that we can reflect upon ourselves, our relationship with others, the world at large and God. In the world in which we are constantly bombarded with stimulai we find it more and more difficult to look at our reality and ourselves from a distance. Polarizing views, overload in emotionally charged messages, growing obesity, growing range of addictions and sense of loneliness … this list of symptoms of our spiritual lethargy is endless. In this context “wasting” about 2% of time in a year to experience some form of spiritual awakening seems actually quite trivial.

Many people associate spiritual sphere with some form of pious practices often bordering on zealotry. It is not, however, how it was meant to be from the very beginning. Jesus, on many an occasion, scolded the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy as they emphasized the form of their religiousness over the essence of spirituality – seeking and doing good. In contrast he enjoyed the company and often healed those who were brave to shed different illusions about themselves and longed to straighten their lives.

I have just completed yet another stage of Spiritual Exercises at the Jesuit convent in Zakopane, the winter capital of Poland. I have already dedicated a few posts on this blog about the Ignatian Meditations. This time around I would like to share a few discoveries from the Third Week (Stage 4 of Spiritual Exercises) that I just attended. It is one of the toughest phases of contemplation because of the main theme of the contemplations, i.e. the events leading to and Jesus’s Crucifixion.

I was a bit apprehensive driving this time to Zakopane for my spiritual retreat. After all the caliber of topics to ponder seemed overwhelming evoking difficult emotions of pain, guilt or shame so well portrayed in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. On the other hand I felt I had heard and reread those stories so many times that they might not resonate properly leaving me indifferent.

Indeed, the method of Ignatian contemplation encourages and enables the people engaged in it to become first-hand observers or even participants of the contemplated events. This is achieved, among others, through meditative visualizations and employment of five senses to better see, hear, feel or even smell and taste a particular scene. Yes. It can be a very stimulating and thought-provoking experience.

As I was contemplating different scenes of the Passion in the silence of the monastery surrounded by the snow-clad Tatra mountains I discovered the beauty and amazing practicality hidden at every single station of the Cross. I think that regardless of our religious or atheist views it carries a universal message to all.

Undoubtedly our life is full of suffering. This is a fate shared by all, the poor, rich and those in the middle. We sometimes try to to deny our reality by wearing all sorts of masks, which only intensifies our pain. Experiencing the current pandemic is a huge catalyst of suffering globally. Businesses going broke, people losing jobs, wealth, health or even life. Older people experiencing growing sense of loneliness. By reacting to those difficult moments in the ordinary way many of us only aggravate our situation.

Jesus suffering may seem an abstract and remote event to us. Contemplating its following stages, however, I discovered certain illumination. By not responding in a typical human manner at every step of his way to the Cross he teaches us how we can stop the vicious cycle of evil and turn suffering into something positive.

The contemplation of the Passion starts with the anointment of Jesus by Mary Magdalene who spent a whole jar of very expensive perfume (worth the equivalent of annual salary of a laborer at the time) to the outrage of His disciples considering it such a “waste”. Yet Jesus, seeing their false care about the poor, which, as they argued, could be helped had the perfume been sold, scolds them and praises the women’s generosity. Then comes the scene when they start fighting for best places by Jesus’s side in the Heavenly Kingdom. How relevant this is in the modern world where many strive to advance their positions in all sorts of hierarchies in business, politics, church, social or family life or even amateur sport. Jesus humbles the apostles and us by giving a lesson on what true servant leadership by the act of washing their feet.

In the popular Netflix (NBC) series “New Amsterdam”, a new hospital director keeps asking his personnel such a rare question in leadership “How can I help?”. No wonder the atmosphere and results start improving at that place both for patients and personnel. Yes. The best model of leadership was invented by Jesus 20 centuries ago! Its practicality and effectiveness pales to all the other ways of trying to lead. Despite the passage of time it remains so revolutionary and rebellious until today. Yes it is all upside down as we, leaders, are tempted to think others should rather serve us. And good leadership does matter.

I could go on with a list of the discoveries from my recent contemplation and their life, including business, applicability yet do not want to spoil the pleasure to those of you who will embark on a similar journey.

I believe that all of us, regardless of how religious or spiritual we are, have a profound need to do good in the world and become better. In other words we long to deepen our spirituality. St. Ignatius Loyola used to say that the same logic applies to spirituality as any other sphere of our life: to achieve better results we simply need to exercise regularly.

Opublikowano leadership, Spirituality | Otagowano , , | 1 komentarz

Ćwiczenia duchowe

Nie proś świata by się zmieniał – to ty zmień się pierwszy

Anthony De Melo

Włączyłem właśnie swój telefon po 8 dniach nieużywania otrzymując jakże rzadki komunikat o drastycznym spadku mojego czasu spędzonego przed ekranem w poprzednim tygodniu. Niesamowite! Mam wrażenie, że w tzw. normalnym trybie mojego życia czas przed ekranem raczej stale rośnie. Polecam taki detox cyfrowy szczególnie w połączeniu z tym, o czym piszę dalej.

Przyszła refleksja, jak dużo czasu każdego dnia, który jest mi dany, marnuję na rzeczy nie przynoszące żadnego dobra. Podoba mi się to określenie „jest mi dany”, choć trochę trąci językiem duchownego. Okazuje się, że w języku hebrajskim podobno nie istnieje czasownik „mieć”. Zamiast tego Żydzi używają właśnie zwrotu, że coś jest im dane. Jak zmiana perspektywy z posiadania na przyjmowanie! Piękne.

A propos spędzania czasu przed ekranem od wielu lat nie oglądam telewizji i nie słucham radio, chyba, że tylko samej muzyki. Prasy też generalnie unikam a jeszcze bardziej wszelkiego rodzaju portali informacyjnych, w których już nawet nie próbuje się udawać jakiegokolwiek dziennikarstwa. Chodzi tylko, abyśmy kliknęli w kolejne sensacje typu: „W sieci zawrzało po …”, „Polska na ustach wszystkich …”, „Obejrzyj jak wspaniale mieszka Pani X i Pan Y …”, „Pani Z zaskoczyła wszystkich. Wzięła ślub w tajemnicy!”, „W latach 90. oglądały ją miliony! Co się z nią stało?”, „Wstrząsające wyznanie! Co doprowadziło do śmierci Polki?” Same wykrzykniki i znaki zapytania a pod nimi często nieistotne czy banalne informacje czy subiektywne oceny autorów tekstów uzurpujących sobie miano do mówienia m.in. w moim imieniu.

Tak działa ten biznes, którego główną walutą jest nasz czas i uwaga. A przecież to towar deficytowy, który niestety tak często bezmyślnie dajemy sobie odbierać przez innych.

Tak czy inaczej jedną z odtrutek na tę naszą rzeczywistość, w której rozmaici szarlatani walczą o przyciąganie naszej uwagi jest praktyka rozmaitych form odosobnienia, medytacji czy też modlitwy. Chodzi mi tu zarówno o pewną codzienną praktykę jak i okresowe dłuższe momenty poświęcone budowaniu swojej świadomości, refleksji czy też relacji z Bogiem.

Od jakiegoś czasu każdego roku przeznaczam 8 dni pod rząd dla swojego życia duchowego. Przybiera to postać odbywania tzw. Ćwiczeń (rekolekcji) duchowych zwanych też ignacjańskimi. Ten okres kontemplacji i refleksji w ciszy z dala od codziennych rozproszeń może się wydawać dość długi. Można powiedzieć, że to takie „marnotrawstwo” czasu, podczas którego nie zajmuję się załatwianiem przyziemnych spraw, zarabianiem pieniędzy czy ich wydawaniem czy jakąkolwiek inną formą działania poza kontemplowaniem wybranych scen z Pisma Świętego.

Ktoś może powiedzieć: jaki luksus i katorga zarazem. Tak bez telefonu, rozmów, oglądania, słuchania, surfowania? A jakie to wszystko niepraktyczne! Jakieś tam kontemplacje historii sprzed ponad 2000 lat.

A jednak uważam, że nie ma nic bardziej praktycznego niż rozwój naszej sfery duchowej. Tu wszystko się zaczyna i wszystko się kończy. W refleksji nad sobą, na swoją relacją z Nim, z ludźmi i z ziemskim przemijaniem. Żyjemy w mocno przebodźcowanym świecie i coraz trudniej łapać nam dystans do otaczającej nas rzeczywistości i nas samych. Polaryzacja poglądów, przeładowanie komunikacji skrajnymi emocjami, rosnąca otyłość, zatracanie się w rozmaitych uzależnieniach, rosnące poczucie osamotnienia … ta lista skutków naszego letargu duchowego jest dość długa.

Patrząc z tej perspektywy czymże zatem jest te nieco ponad 2% czasu w skali całego roku?! Wydaje się, że jest to dość krótki okres, w którym próbuję się przebudzić, choć na chwilę.

Wielu z nas kojarzy sferę duchową z jakąś formą pobożnych praktyk religijnych czy jakiś innych form ocierających się o dewocję. Niż bardziej błędnego. Sam Jezus wielokrotnie strofował współczesnych mu uczonych w piśmie, faryzeuszów za ich obłudę i hipokryzję poprzez skupianie się na formie a nie na sednie życia duchowego – stawaniu się lepszym poprzez czynienie dobra. Uzdrawiał zaś i lubił przebywać wśród tych, którzy zrzucali z siebie rozmaite maski zdając sobie sprawę z tego, że błądzą i pragnąc zmieniać się na lepsze.

Za mną kolejny już etap tychże rekolekcji, które tradycyjnie odbywam u Jezuitów na „Górce” w Zakopanem. O samych rekolekcjach pisałem już niejednokrotnie na tym blogu. Bogu dziękuję, że wśród swoich rocznych priorytetów jest też i ten na „zmarnowanie” 8 dni dla Niego i dla siebie zarazem. To taki paradoks duchowości. Zresztą jeden z wielu.

Tym razem odprawiałem tzw. Trzeci Tydzień poświęcony bardzo trudnej tematyce Męki Jezusa. Trochę się tego bałem, jadąc na te rekolekcje. Tyle razy już słyszałem czy czytałem o tych wszystkich wydarzeniach związanych z drogą Jezusa od jego namaszczenia w Betanii, poprzez Ostatnią Wieczerzę, rozmaite sądy i Drogę Krzyżową do momentu Ukrzyżowania. Wiele z tych bardzo drastycznych scen oddaje bardzo realistycznie film „Pasja” Mela Gibsona. Uczucia, które wywołuje przechodzenie choćby tylko jako widz, obserwator, uczestnik (zalecana metoda kontemplacji ignacjańskiej poprzez zanurzenie się w kontemplacji w daną scenę biblijną), są bardzo trudne. Ból, przerażenie, wstyd, udręka. Ciężki kaliber! Niby nic odkrywczego, ale porusza za każdym razem, jak okrutni potrafimy być dla innych. Ale czy świat się jakoś zmienił od tamtego czasu? Ktoś, szczególnie mniej wrażliwy duchowo, mógłby powiedzieć: nic nowego – Męka jak Męka. Było minęło.

A jednak przy tym kolejnym rozważaniu przez osiem dni w ciszy i będąc offline tych trudnych doświadczeń Jezusa i Jego najbliższych odkryłem piękno i praktyczność jakie kryje się na każdym etapie Drogi Krzyżowej. Myślę, że to piękno jest przesłaniem uniwersalnym bez względu na wyznawany światopogląd.

To, że nasze życie jest generalnie pasmem cierpienia, nie ulega wątpliwości. Cierpią biedni, bogaci i ci pośrodku. Często próbujemy temu zaprzeczać rzeczywistości zakładając rozmaite maski, co niestety jeszcze bardziej pogłębia to cierpienie. Doświadczenie pandemii jest sporym katalizatorem cierpienia na całym świecie. Bankrutujące firmy, ludzie tracący pracę, majątki, zdrowie, życie. Ludzie starsi cierpiący na coraz większe osamotnienie. Niestety wielu z nas jeszcze bardziej pogrąża się w swoim cierpieniu reagując na nie w sposób typowy, do którego jesteśmy przyzwyczajeni od zawsze.

Męka Jezusa może się wydawać dość abstrakcyjnym i odległym historycznie i kulturowo doświadczeniem od naszych czasów. A jednak kontemplując poszczególne jej etapy doznałem olśnienia i zachwytu. Jezus uczy nas na każdym etapie swojej drogi na Golgotę, jak możemy zmniejszać spiralę zła i zamieniać cierpienie na coś dobrego.

Wszystko zaczyna się od namaszczenia stóp Jezusa drogocennym olejkiem (równowartość całorocznej pensji rolnika) przez Marię Magdalenę i typowej dla nas reakcji apostołów obnażających ich chytrość i zazdrość. Jezus docenia jej hojność i gani udawaną troskę apostołów o biednych. Potem jest scena „walki o stołki” między nimi, kto będzie bliżej Niego siedział w Królestwie Bożym. Wypisz, wymaluj dzisiejsza rzeczywistość człowieka i pokorna lekcja służenia innym poprzez gest umycia stóp przez Jezusa.

W popularnym obecnie serialu na Netflixie „New Amsterdam”, nowy dyrektor szpitala nieustannie zadaje swojemu zespołowi pytanie „Jak mogę pomóc?” Taki właśnie model najbardziej skutecznego przywództwa promował już 20 wieków temu Jezus. Nic dziwnego, że w serialowym szpitalu w Nowym Jorku zaczyna się dziać coraz więcej dobra. Tak. Dobre przywództwo ma znaczenie.

Tych praktycznych zastosowań do dzisiejszego życia z postawy Jezusa na różnych etapach Jego Męki jest naprawdę wiele.

Wierzę, że wszyscy z nas niezależnie od tego jak jesteśmy religijni mamy głęboką potrzebę stawania się lepszym i czynienia dobra. Innymi słowy tęsknimy za tym, aby pogłębiać swoją duchowość. Jak mawiał Św. Ignacy z Lojoli ze sferą duchową jest dokładnie tam samo jak z każdą inną. Jeśli chcemy widzieć jakiekolwiek postępy musimy po prostu regularnie ćwiczyć.


Kilka cytatów, które mnie ostatnio poruszyły:

Patrz na siebie z dystansu a na Jezusa z bliska.

Nasze życie nie potrzebuje ciągłego organizowania lecz zrozumienia.

O wiele więcej kłopotów przysparzali Jezusowi ludzie, którzy uważali się za autentycznie dobrych. Pierwszy nawrócił się dobry łotr.

Prawdziwe szczęście nie ma swojej przyczyny. Jest nieuwarunkowane. Takie są właśnie dzieci. My, dorośli, nie doświaczamy go, bo tworzymy sobie różne złudzenia.

Niczego nie trzeba dodać ale tylko odrzucać.

Negatywne uczucia są w tobie, nie w otaczającej ciebie rzeczywistości. Nie trudź się, by ją zmieniać.

Opublikowano Duchowość, epidemia, Ćwiczenia duchowe | Otagowano , , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Być jak Newton

W połowie XVII wieku Europę dotknęła wielka zaraza, która przetoczyła się przez kilka krajów jak Hiszpania, Niderlandy, Włochy. Uważa się, że została ona przywieziona na statkach przez bakterię, której roznosicielami były szczury.

Po upływie kilku lat dżuma trafiła też na Wyspy Brytyjskie, gdzie zaatakowała szczególnie mocno w dużych miastach. Londyn stracił wtedy około 20% swojej populacji. Aby przeciwdziałać jej rozprzestrzenianiu wprowadzono wiele ograniczeń podobnych do dzisiejszych. Wśród nich było zamknięcie uniwersytetów. W czasie tej narzuconej izolacji społecznej pewien ambitny miłośnik matematyki i fizyki, wrócił na swoją rodzinną farmę. Eksperymentując w samotności wpadł on tam na rewolucyjną ideę dotyczącą grawitacji. Wiele lat później, Izaak Newton, o którym mowa, wspominał lata wielkiej dżumy jako najbardziej płodny intelektualnie okres w swoim życiu. Uważał, że dojście do prawdy było możliwe dzięki jego wyciszeniu się i medytacji.

W naszych czasach, kiedy szczególnie mocno promujemy wszelkiego rodzaju aktywność i działanie, warto pamiętać o niezwykłej mocy ciszy i refleksji, której często mają bardziej fundamentalny wpływ na nasze życie niż tysiące, często bezrefleksyjnych działań.

Drugi przykład, jak dobrze można wykorzystać kryzysy, może być swego rodzaju pociechą dla świata biznesu, który przechodzi teraz ciężkie chwile. Okazuje się bowiem, że  połowa z 500 największych firm według czasopisma Fortune powstała właśnie w czasach rozmaitych kryzysów. Dotyczy to m.in. platformy LinkedIn, na której publikuję niniejszy wpis.

Przeszkody, na jakie trafiamy, często wyzwalają w nas niezwykły potencjał. Ważne jest, abyśmy rzeczywiście skupiali się na ich pokonywaniu a nie na traceniu energii na rzeczy, na które nie mamy wpływu.

Opublikowano sabbatical | Otagowano , , , | Dodaj komentarz