The other day in one of our coaching sessions, Phil and I talked about “soul force.”
We arrived at that powerful phrase via a very mundane question related to the keynote I was giving later that month. I literally never do “talks” so… “To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint?” <- That was the question. (I use a Mac so, technically, the question was “To Keynote or not to Keynote?” 🤓)
Of course, the answer to such an epically important question (hah) will vary depending on the individual but, for me, the answer, in short, was “No.”
Because we decided that we didn’t want anything to get in between me and me expressing my “soul force.” I needed to have fun being naked and just sharing Ideas I deeply care about—rather than hiding behind a clicker and some slides.
Practically-speaking, it was a helpful hint.
Spiritually-speaking, it was a life-changing distinction.
I mean… SOUL FORCE!!! <- How BEAUTIFUL is that phrase?!
It pretty much captures the primary goal of all of our work together. And, it was the final idea in my talk and in our Optimizing for the Modern Hērō 101 class.
The arc of that class (and my entire body of work) goes something like this:
We start at the philosophical top with Optimus + Hērō = Soul Oxygen.
In short: We Optimize to become our heroic best—giving our greatest gifts in greatest service to the world. Maslow says: This NEED to actualize our potential is as fundamental as our need to breathe. “What one can be, one must be!” As such, actualizing in service to the world is, in my world, Soul Oxygen.
Then we move on to Telos + Eudaimōn + Areté ( = Psyche).
In short: Aristotle and his pals (from philosophers 2,500 years ago to modern scientists today) agree: Flourishing people have targets. We’re “teleological.” The ultimate target? To have a great relationship with our inner soul. Greeks called that “eudaimonia.” It’s the summum bonnum. The highest good. The individual who hits that ultimate target is a eudaimōn. How do we achieve that? Virtue. Virtue. Virtue. In a word: Areté.
Although modern research and therapeutic psychologists rarely uses the word “soul” to capture the essence of what they do, do you know what the word “psyche” in “psychology” literally means? It means “breath” or “life” or… Get this: “Soul.”
Long story short (again!): Modern science agrees with the ancients. In fact, as we’ve discussed, the whole positive psychology movement was founded on the core, universally-shared virtues of all major wisdom traditions. And, they say, the way to be happy (in the deepest sense of eudaimonic flourishing, of course!) is to… drumroll please… put your virtues in action. In a word: Areté.
From there, we leave the world of philosophical ideals and drill into our own idiosyncratic personal realities—getting clarity on our Big 3 and writing algorithms to create Masterpiece Days while cultivating an antifragile sense of confidence, emotional stamina, etc., etc., etc., etc. Repeat moment to moment to moment. Forever.
Why do we do all that?
Well, that brings us back to the beginning. Soul Force.
We do all this work so we can be on great terms with our inner soul. To be eudaimōns capable of giving our best to the world on a consistent basis—while, of course, enjoying the process.
But here’s the kicker: We don’t need to “build” our soul force. All that power is ALREADY there.
Just like the Golden Buddha statue, we simply need to get rid of the stuff that’s hiding the gold.
And, perhaps even more accurately, just like the Niagara Falls metaphor, we need to HARNESS the latent energy that’s ALREADY there.
Butterworth tells us that, in short, we got the whole “The meek shall inherit the Earth” wisdom pretty much all wrong.
The Greek word that has been translated as “meek” is praeis. But “meek” is a very weak translation of a very powerful word.
Praeis, Butterworth tells us, means something closer to “tamed.” (Steve Chandler says it’s closer to “disciplined.” As in, “The disciplined shall inherit the Earth.”)
Butterworth tells us to picture Niagara Falls. Imagine all that water pounding down every moment of every day. There was always a TON of potential energy there. (Technically, there’s about 3,160 tons of water flowing over the Falls EVERY second. That’s approaching 1 million gallons of water every.single.second!)
But, it wasn’t until Niagara Falls was “tamed” that we could HARNESS all that potential energy and convert it into energy we could actually use.
Which leads us back to where we started and to the point of Today’s +1.
How’s your SOUL FORCE?
Couple quick questions…
How can you tame/discipline yourself a little more today to harness all that latent energy just a little more?
And… Are you hiding behind any slide clickers in life?
If you feel so inspired, sit or stand up straight. Take a nice, deep, relaxing breath in through your nose. Hold for just a moment. Smile. Exhale slightly longer than your inhale.
FEEL the energy within yourself. Smile again. And let your Soul Force shine!